We’ve all grown up on Jackie Chan’s action comedy movies. They always follow the same formula. Action, comedy, a lot of wholesome fun and a ton of fun. The Foreigner gives his fans a peek of how Jackie can be when he’s possessed by Liam Neeson.
Synopsis: Quan (Jackie Chan) is a battle weary migrant to the UK, whom after suffering from the tragedies of war, finds purpose in the simple life with his teenage daughter. When she falls victim to a terrorist bombing, he does everything in his power to find her killers, stopping at nothing to find answers, even going against Irish First Deputy Minister Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan).
Don’t expect to find Jackie Chan, the comedian in this film adaptation of Stephen Leather’s book The Chinaman. While his action stunts are on point, Jackie ups his game with guerilla warfare, bomb making and even some gunfights on top of his normal kung fu repertoire. In a quite dramatic role, Jackie conveys the character of a man who has lost the only thing in his life worth living for and the determination of a father who wants to avenge his beloved daughter. Throughout the whole film, he remained consistent in his anguish and his resolve to find justice by his own hands.
I loved that Jackie took a risk with this role and he did succeed in detaching himself from his comedic persona. There was just this one scene where he deflects a blow by the heel of his boot and he looks at the boot in wonder that kind of got me to expect him to make a face. After a heartbeat, he remained in character. Great job, Jackie.
While he carries the titular role, I couldn’t help but feel like The Foreigner was made to be more of Pierce Brosnan’s movie than Jackie’s. There was more focus on his story and more layers to his character, a rebel turned politician, who has more skeletons in his closet than the rest of the characters put together. Pierce succeeded in projecting an air of a seasoned politician but he never seemed to deliver on the aspects of the rebel in his performance. I would have thought that a former IRA member would have more balls and pride than to hide inside his farm instead of facing the threat head on. On this part, I was quite unconvinced by Brosnan’s portrayal.
This actually got me thinking that maybe the tentativeness in his character could have been his stab at projecting empathy towards Quan but the ending scene between the two put quite an end to that theory.
While the story ties in quite sensibly enough, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of disconnect between the two main characters. It seemed like Hennessy had his own issues to deal with while Quan had a single minded vendetta. And they weren’t able to help each other at all because it was the SO15 that pieced together everything. They just acted on the information gleaned by the investigation. Go figure.
On the plus side, I wanted to see more of Rory Fleck Byrne because his character was built up so much as a Ranger but in the end, he had his arse handed to him by a 61 year old Quan. Too bad, I liked Sean.
The Foreigner was, all in all, an interesting action thriller. However, I felt that it was slightly imbalanced because the focus was tipped too much in favor of Pierce Brosnan. Perhaps it was a conscious decision of director Martin Campbell, who wanted to play it safe, given its Jackie’s first foray into this type of action, but the film didn’t really tell the story of The Foreigner and relegated him to a secondary character with the way things unfolded. The action part on the other hand, was heavily inclined towards Jackie’s character leaving nothing for Pierce who once kicked ass as the legendary Remington Steel and James Bond. Unfortunately, this was a great disservice, both to the actors and the audience.