Jackie Chan is back in business. This time he’s in something a little more weighty. The Foreigner is a one-man vendetta film, very much in the vein of Taken. It’s an adaption of Stephen Leather’s novel, The Chinaman. Chan, in his sixties, still has enough juice left to pump out an engrossing performance.
He plays Quan Ngoc Minh, a restaurant owner, who seeks justice after his daughter is killed in a London bombing. As a former Vietnam War soldier, he uses his training to track down the terrorists. He shows up in Northern Island where he meets Liam Hennessy (Pierce Bronson), an ex-IRA officer turned politician. He too wants to identify the bombers, but Quan is convinced he’s hiding something.
Quan is a troubled, haggard man, so disturbed by his loss he can barely function. His tone of voice is monotonic, almost ghost-like. I can’t remember ever seeing Jackie Chan so down-and-out in a movie. Things change when he starts fighting, but you don’t get the finessed martial arts like in prior Jackie Chan movies. The action scenes are ragged and filmed in a sporadic style, with close and medium shots, as well as wide-angles.
The fights are quick, clean and brutal. There are some unnecessary bits of action, that seem like they were thrown in for the sake of it, but there’s something succinct about every set piece. At the heart of it, the film depicts an internal conflict with its main character. Quan is struggling to block out his dark past while trying to deal with his current, equally torturous situation. The ticking-time-bomb scenario is in full effect, as both good guys and bad guys are pushed beyond their limits.
The plot weighs in on the predictable end of the scale, but it’s a very spirited experience watching it unfold. We want Quan to get the guys who killed his daughter; we want the scum to be caught and locked up. It pulls you into the story, even though you know it’s only going to go one way.
The Foreigner keeps the tension high, giving us a real sense of danger, emotion and a brush of “dirty politics”. Overall, this is a great Jackie Chan action movie. Chan is as entertaining as he’s ever been. The Foreigner succeeds as a large scale action thriller.
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: David Marconi (screenplay), Stephen Leather (novel)
Stars: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Liu Tao, Michael McElhatton, Charlie Murphy
Distributor: STX Films
Run Time: 114 minutes.
The Foreigner is now streaming on Netflix.