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Review: The Foreigner

Jackie Chan stars as Quan in STX FIlms' THE FOREIGNER

I think there are people who still want to see Jackie Chan movies, but I don’t know if there’s a huge market for him starring is movies that don’t include a ton of comedy mixed with action. Either way, he’s willing to take that risk as he stars in The Foreigner. With a career as long as his, it’s easy to see why he would want to finally shift into something that varies from what he’s been doing for ages now, but I’m sure there are many who won’t appreciate what it is that he’s trying to do as much as he does.

The Foreigner follows Quan (Jackie Chan), a man with a long-buried past on his quest for revenge after his daughter is murdered in a terror attack in London. In his search for justice, the humble Londoner comes to understand that the terrorists may have past connections to the IRA. This leads him to the doorstep of Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a government official with ties of his own to that controversial organization. Once they meet, the two men find themselves in a battle of wills that may bring them closer to uncovering the identities of those behind the attacks.

The Foreigner is basically a more tempered Jackie Chan movie without the comedy. I figure that some people may have an issue with that, since we as Americans know him for that more than anything else. The thing is though is that he wants to do things that are at least somewhat different from what he’s known for. That’s why a movie like this was so important to him in the first place. And although moves away from what he’s recognized for to some degree, he still finds himself doing what Jackie Chan does more often than not.

In the early parts of what we’re watching, this actually seemed like it was going to be more of a drama than an action movie. You’ll notice that Chan is trying to be more dramatic than usual as well as having fewer lines of dialog to deal with throughout. From the beginning, he’s an understated character who tells a story of depression by his actions and inactivity. This is unique for him, and doesn’t work that well until the action begins to kick in.

Once that occurs, the pace manages to get faster over time and his presence on camera improves. This is when I believe fans of the Chan brand will begin to truly appreciate the positives of this movie. We start to go over familiar territory but it does still feel different since it’s more serious than most of his previous work. I just wish they could have shortened many of the earliest portions of the movie. This would have likely made it more fun to watch all the way through.

Another feature that helps The Foreigner until we get to this point is the performance from Pierce Brosnan. While Chan’s Quan is sulking and dealing with the latest of a long line of misfortunes in his life, Brosnan’s Hennessy is busy providing the personality and dialog that we need. His presence here is a precarious one as he isn’t what you would normally describe as a protagonist or an antagonist. As you’ll find out, he’s just a man trying to keep everything together during a trying time in a cold, violent world.

In that sense, the characters including the ones played by Chan and Brosnan are just extra additions that make The Foreigner seem unique as it separates itself from many of the films we generally see being put out there regardless of genre. Here, there aren’t the same codes or styles that we recognize. These guys have motives and reasons for what they’re doing that add depth to a movie that could have simply relied on action.

In the end, I left The Foreigner feeling satisfied with what was giving to me. While, it could have benefited from a shorter (or quicker) first act, the movie in its entirety is fine for what it’s trying to accomplish. Those of us who are still willing to watch Jackie Chan do at least some of what he used to do will likely feel the same as I do.

Director: Martin Campbell

Jackie Chan
Pierce Brosnan
Michael McElhatton
Orla Brady
Ray Fearon
Charlie Murphy
Lia Williams
Dermot Crowley
Katie Leung

Film Length: 113 minutes

Release Date: October 13, 2017

Distributor: STX Entertainment

  • Score - 6/10
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