Movie Review: The Foreigner
Jackie Chan’s newest film, The Foreigner, hit theaters this weekend, landing in the top five of the box office with its twelve million dollar opening. It was directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) and written by David Marconi (Enemy of The State). The film follows Chan’s character, Ngoc Minh Quan, as he seeks revenge for his daughter’s death. In addition to Chan, the film stars Pierce Brosnan as Liam Hennessy, a former IRA member who is now a British official. The supporting cast is also comprised of Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones), Liu Tao (Ode To Joy), Charlie Murphy (Love/Hate), and Orla Brady (Into The Badlands).
The film begins with Quan (Chan) picking up his teenage daughter, Fan, from school. He drops her off at a department store to pick up a dress, and while she’s in the store, a bomb is detonated. Quan is minorly injured, but Fan is killed in the blast. A group called the “Authentic IRA” claims responsibility for the attack, which puts pressure on diplomatic relations and puts the spotlight on Liam Hennessy (Brosnan) as a former IRA member and current British government official. Quan is distraught over his loss and tries to offer a Scotland Yard officer money for the names of the bombers. When that attempt fails, he sets his sights on Hennessy following a televised interview. Hennessy claims to have no information about the bombers, but Quan does not believe him. Refusing to stop until he can exact revenge, Quan puts pressure on Hennessy as all the different parties involved try to find the ones responsible for the deadly bombing.
I have to immediately give credit to the filmmakers for crafting a story where the audience cares about a character death that we know is coming. The daughter’s death is in the trailer and is the springboard for everything that happens in the film. While we get little time with her on the screen and know its coming, her death is both powerful and devastating. In fact, I thought the scenes that showed the aftermath of the bombing were incredibly well done and showed the carnage without being excessive. It also sets the film up to be the revenge tale that it is, but even then, there are a lot of other layers that exist in the film. The heart of the conflict deals within Hennessy’s storyline and the political tensions between the Irish and British communities. In that way, the film finds the theme of revenge as the hinge for the entire story.
While I truly enjoyed the multi-layered story, I have to commend the acting throughout the film. I will forever associate Pierce Brosnan with James Bond, but I enjoyed seeing him in a less than heroic type of role. He is quietly frightening at several points in this role, and Brosnan delivered on every critical moment. However, the standout is definitely Jackie Chan. To be in his sixties, the man can still dominate an action film. He delivered on choreography, but he also completely delivered on the role of a grieving father who needs revenge. He plays a man who has lost everything, and he nailed the emotional moments. The supporting cast was also great, although these two men obviously feature heavily in the story. The script was also well-written, and while I did get a little tired of hearing Pierce Brosnan say he didn’t know anything, it is truly a minor complaint.
Overall, this film had more to it than I expected. I was prepared to see Jackie Chan take out some enemies, but to be honest, I was impressed with all the other moving parts of the story. It did get a little hard to distinguish some characters by their names, but every film has its share of shortcomings. I can honestly say I was never bored, and while I enjoyed the ending, I wish it did not feel so abrupt. However, if you enjoy a good action film fueled by revenge, then I have to highly recommend seeing The Foreigner in theater.