The Foreigner

Foreigner-Movie-rev The Foreigner  (2017)    STX/Action-Thriller    RT: 113 minutes    Rated R (violence, language, some sexual material)    Director: Martin Campbell    Screenplay: David Marconi    Music: Cliff Martinez    Cinematography: David Tattersall    Release date: October 13, 2017 (US)    Cast: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Niall McNamee, Aaron Monaghan, John Cronin, Caolan Byrne, Michael McElhatton, Charlie Murphy, Dermot Crowley, Lia Williams, Liu Tao, Orla Brady, Katie Leung, Ray Fearon, Rufus Jones, David Pearse.

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 The first thing you need to know about the new Jackie Chan movie The Foreigner is that it’s NOT a Jackie Chan movie. Not in the way you might think anyway. It stars Chan but none of his usual clownish king fu antics are on display. It’s real departure for the 63-year-old actor who goes dark as a grieving father out to avenge the death of his teenage daughter in a terrorist bombing. He turns his attention to an Irish diplomat, Liam Hennessy (former James Bond Brosnan), who used to be an IRA leader. When he proves uncooperative, Chan goes into John Rambo/Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson’s character from The Mechanic) mode. Although he’s slowed down considerably since the days of Police Story and Rumble in the Bronx, I don’t think he plans on stopping any time soon as he’s rumored to be doing a fourth Rush Hour movie (according to IMDb).

 The-ForeignerThis isn’t the first time Quan (Chan) has suffered loss. His wife and two other daughters were killed as they escaped Communist China many years before. The former Special Forces op settled in London where he opened a restaurant. His world falls apart after his only remaining family member is killed by an organization calling themselves the “Authentic IRA”. All he wants is justice and it’s not happening fast enough to suit him. At the very least, he wants names so he can take care of it himself. When British law officials deny him that, he goes to Belfast where he proceeds to be a thorn in the side to Hennessy who’s trying to get to the bottom of it himself. He has a side deal with the British government; he turns over the responsible parties in exchange for pardons for some of his old IRA comrades.

 Quan is convinced that Hennessy not only knows who did the bombing, he believes he ordered it as well. He wages a one-man war against the Irish politician and his security team. In a scene right out of First Blood, Quan neutralizes several of Hennessy’s men in the woods surrounding his country house. I’m not kidding when I say this guy is a Chinese Rambo; he even heals a wound with a red-hot knife blade.

 The Foreigner is a blend of action movie and political thriller with scenes of Chan taking down bad guys and scenes of various people (e.g. diplomats, policemen and terrorists) engaged in conversation and cutting secret deals. The latter aspect of The Foreigner tends to get convoluted. One might even ask why now with the IRA. It’s been nearly twenty years since The Troubles in Northern Ireland ended with the Good Friday Agreement. When other ask why, I say why not. Let me ask you this, would it make the movie any better if they were Middle Eastern terrorists? I don’t think so. I find the notion of a new IRA group (as a movie premise) intriguing. It’s a great “what if?” premise. What if a group of young people tried to stir up trouble again by forming a new IRA group?

 Some will complain that The Foreigner moves too slowly. Okay, I’ll grant that it’s not a fast-paced, thrill-a-minute type movie. It’s more of a slow burn revenge thriller with some cool action scenes. Chan still has a few moves left but he’s not as fast or agile as he used to be. He’s slower and not as coordinated; thus, it’s not as easy to take down his younger opponents. He takes quite a beating in his quest for justice. I have no problem with older action stars still doing their thing into their 60s and 70s. I dug the movies Bronson made for Cannon in the latter part of his career. Yes, it’s ridiculous but aren’t most action flicks? However, because Chan doesn’t do his usual thing in The Foreigner, it exposes his weaknesses as a dramatic actor. He’s pretty wooden. I actually expected that would be the case but it doesn’t ruin the movie for me.

 Brosnan is good as Hennessy, the politico who has a lot riding on the outcome of the investigation. I won’t tell you everything that’s at stake; I wouldn’t want to spoil the plot twists. The rest of the cast is serviceable; however, you may need a score card to keep track of all the characters and their roles in the plot. The action scenes are well-executed albeit rather mechanical. Ultimately, The Foreigner is a decent enough action flick that doesn’t bring anything new to the genre. It’s not what you expect from a Jackie Chan movie but sometimes it’s good to leave your comfort zone. I’ll give Chan points for effort and chutzpah. As for The Foreigner, it’s a solid three-star Saturday matinee flick. 

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