We get to see Jackie Chan in a more dramatic role in this tale of international intrigue.
For me, The Foreigner kind of came out of nowhere. This taut drama stars Jackie Chan (who looks great for being over 60) as Quan Ngoc Minh. A rogue IRA unit bombs a bank, and the explosion kills Minh’s daughter as she is shopping for a dress. Minh vows vengeance, and begins stalking former IRA leader and current Irish politician Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) who might hold secrets that will lead to the bombers. What unfolds is a race against time as everyone is searching for the bombers before another attack occurs.
The film has a lot of moving pieces. We have Minh and Hennessy as our focal points, but the British government, other IRA members, the rogue unit, family members, and so forth are all in the mix. I liked the complicated nature of the story, but some of the side plots (particularly involving Hennessy’s nephew) seem a little pushed in.
Chan steals the show, and we get to see a more subdued version of him here. Don’t get me wrong, he still shows why he is one of the finest action stars around. Some of the stunts he does in this one truly show he is a master of his craft. His character is also immensely likable, and this is largely due to Chan’s on screen charisma. Brosnan also does quite well here, and this might be one his most watchable performances since his early outings as Bond.
The film benefits from excellent pacing. It reminds me of Korean juggernauts like The Man from Nowhere and No Tears for the Dead in the relentless pace towards an explosive conclusion. There is also a bit of Tom Clancy-esque feeling to the story (I haven’t read the novel this film is based on, so I do not want to detract from that either). Camera work is solid, strong action scenes, and an overall nice shine to the production.
The story is enjoyable, but ultimately predictable. Even with the numerous twists they throw in a lot of this is going to feel familiar. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does keep the film from truly breaking the genre moorings and being something truly special. For fans of Chan, or of crime/international terrorism films, this one will be one certainly worth seeing.
Perhaps the most refreshing part of the narrative is the focus on IRA terrorism. We don’t see a lot of films about the Troubles, and while this one takes place decades later, it is still moored in the topic. This is a fascinating portion of history that is often overlooked in film. I hope that this film inspires more stories from this period. I also wouldn’t complain if this ushers in a new wave of Jackie Chan films.
Order a pizza and give this one a watch. 8/10