Release Date: October 13, 2017
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: David Marconi, Stephen Leather
Cast: Katie Leung, Jackie Chan, Rufus Jones, Mark Tandy, John Cronin, Caolan Byrne, Donna Bernard, Aaron Monaghan, Niall McNamee, Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Murphy, Orla Brady, Lia Williams, Michael McElhatton, David Pearse, Scott Sparrow, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Tao Liu, Dermot Crowley, Sean Campion, Sean Gleeson, Ray Fearon, Thusitha Jayasundera, Ryan Early, Jonathan Cullen
Genre: Action, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes
Production Company: SR Media, STX Entertainment, theyzz, Arthur Sarkissian Productions, The Entertainer Production Company, Huayi Brothers, Quidam Studios, Wanda Media Co.
Language: English, Mandarin
Country: UK, China, USA
Budget: $35,000,000 (estimated)
It’s been quite a while since Mr. Jackie Chan graced movie screens in the United States with Martial Arts action. He’s a very well-rounded talented actor, but his punches, kicks, and flips, are what he’s most known for. So, if you’re going into The Foreigner expecting those amazing feats you’re used to, please check your expectations at the door. There’s a good amount of action within the film, but it would be wrong to classify this as a Martial Arts film. That doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining because it is seeing him play a loving father that’s out for revenge. One thing that makes Mr. Chan’s action scenes stand out from everyone else is that he doesn’t only deliver the beatings, but sometimes receives them too. It just makes the entire experience much more worthwhile and realistic to a normal street fight. In other films, the protagonist is often flawless, and never draws blood until the end. Though not Mr. Chan. He knows what he’s doing in front and behind the camera, and once more, he proves that he’s the man!
Though, even if you’re the “Man,” there’s only so much you can provide on screen through your assigned director. In this case, that’s Martin Campbell (Green Lantern) who hasn’t directed a feature film since his last in 2011. One feeling I feel I was robbed of as an audience member was the emotional outbreak from Quan Ngoc Minh (Jackie Chan) when he lost his daughter. To give the film credit, from the trailers, you knew that an explosion was coming to take his daughter, but the actual event still came out of nowhere. Just as anyone would be shocked in the middle of a terrorist attack, that same value was present in the auditorium. Though, when the moment presented Quan to react how anyone would in despair and angry, there was just an abrupt transition to another scene that fell flat. This key moment sets the tone of the entire film, and I feel it was a missed opportunity early on to assist you with empathizing with the character. You still did later on, but the first impression is the lasting one.
Soon after, as the story progresses it becomes very clear that Quan has skills of combat from his past. With no more family left, he has nothing to lose, and goes on a vigilante rampage, but as polite as a gentleman. This is so unheard of and is fulfilling, new, and hilarious. Quan tries to handle the process of finding the terrorists that killed his daughter through the legal channels and gets nowhere, and take matters into his own hands. And while doing so, he makes you laugh at loud, but while still embracing every attack he dishes out. The combination of action, and comedy is pure gold, that not too many films could pull off, but they did so with ease here. As I stated before, Quan knows how to handle himself, fight, set traps, build bombs, but he’s still isn’t invincible. He makes mistakes, and get consumed by emotion, just like any other human being, but this is what grounds the films making it worth your while to view. One problem though is that there should’ve been a little more action, but the film decides to focus on a convoluted story is that plain and simple, isn’t that interesting?
That story is being led by Liam Hennessy played by Pierce Brosnan. This dude was the man back in the day, but not here in the foreigner. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t a sight to see either. It’s assumed he was the antagonist throughout majority of the film, but there’s a zero level of threat coming from here or much of his henchman that’s there to protect his wellbeing. I’m glad he wasn’t portrayed as a mustache twirling comic book villain, but there could’ve been so much more to his character to draw you into the film. His Irish accent became too old midway through the movie. As far as the society he was in, it was too difficult to keep track of everyone he came in contact with, and with all the dialogue from his supposed dark past going through one ear and out the other.
Fortunately for this film, there is much more to appreciate than to condemn, and as a film, it does provide a level of quality that’s worth your time. Though it falls short of being an amazing extravaganza, that’s fine as most films aren’t able to reach that level, but given the talent involved. I can’t help to think it could’ve been so much more. As a whole, it’s a slightly different side of Jackie Chan that I’ve seen before, being toned down by a large margin of his past films. And given the horrible mess the director gave us in 2011 with Green Lantern, this is a much better film, and a step in the right direction to get Campbell back on track.