The Foreigner Review: Jackie Chan’s Still Got It
The Foreigner is a film based on a novel called The Chinaman by Stephen Leather. Knowing nothing at all about the film apart from Jackie Chan being in it, I set off to the screening with an entirely blank slate. I did not expect what I saw on the screen. Jackie Chan plays Quan Ngoc Minh, a father and Chinese businessman living and working in London. When taking his daughter to purchase a dress for her dance, tragedy strikes leaving Quan looking for justice for his daughter. This search leads him to Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a British government official with loose connections to the group claiming responsibility for the tragedy. What is left for Quan to do but relentlessly pursue justice for his daughter by exploiting and toying with his only connection to the perpetrators, Liam Hennessy? As the film unfolds, Quan’s hidden past is brought to light and gives us more insight into this complicated and devastated man.
Jackie Chan, despite his age of 63, is fantastic in this film. I believe he still did all his stunts and this role was demanding both emotionally and physically, and Jackie Chan delivers. This more dramatic and emotional role is something newer for Jackie, and he nails it. The nuances of his performance are done so craftily with the layers of his characters shedding before our eyes. He transforms from a loving father to a devastated man, to a man hell-bent on revenge in a matter of 110 minutes. Pierce Brosnan looking older than I’d ever expected he would look gives a stellar performance as Liam Hennessy. His character also complicated with a checkered history allows him to portray a very layered performance as a government official, husband, revolutionary, and leader. Our supporting cast is just as spectacular giving us a vibrant environment for the film.
The film is sharply written with great dialogue and storylines. The way that each character is unfolded as we see their different layers is done with ease. Despite Jackie and Pierce being the leads, there is a large cast in this film with a lot of parts at play. The story expertly works to make sure that each of those characters serves a purpose and are neatly fit into the web that is The Foreigner.
The action and choreography are top-notch. Of course, we get scenes with Jackie Chan using hand to hand combat, but we also get scenes with explosives and booby trapping. These moments are filled with suspense and excitement as we can’t wait to see where the story and characters take us next. Some scenes show Quan working with different methods of warfare that are incredibly tense and well crafted. These scenes create a level of suspense, engaging the audience completely in the world that Martin Campbell has created. In tandem with these scenes of huge action and combat, there are moments of quiet that allow the audience to reflect on what Quan must be feeling, creating an excellent film.
Martin Campbell delivers us a sharply written tale of revenge, filled with great suspense and choreography. The Foreigner is full of thrilling action and hand to hand combat but offers up a more emotionally tuned Jackie Chan than we are accustomed to seeing. Chan and Brosnan are perfect, giving us some of their best work in years making The Foreigner this year’s surprise action film.