REVIEW: The Foreigner (2017)

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Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with some intricate twists in this thriller from the director of Goldeneye and Casino Royale.

Restaurateur Quon Ngoc Minh’s life is forever shattered when his youngest daughter, Fan, is killed in a bombing in the streets of London. Having learned that the men responsible are a group known as the “Authentic IRA”, Quon looks for answers. Watching an interview on television, Quon learns that Irish-born Deputy Marshall Liam Hennessy was once a member of the IRA only to now attempt to promote peace between Ireland and England.

Quon heads to Belfast to meet with Hennessy, asking for the names of the bombers. When Hennessy swears he does not know the names, Quon doesn’t believe him and thus, begins a deadly game between the two. As Quon continues his search for answers through a series of warning “bombings”, Hennessy decides to dispatch his nephew Sean, a former military officer, and other members of his entourage to find Quon. However, some dark secrets within Hennessy’s ranks and political power may arise, making Quon the least of his worries.

Fans who have been wanting to see Jackie Chan tackle something other than his usual shtick will truly get the chance to see it with this film. Chan, usually seen as a comedic martial arts actor whose intricate choreography makes him the legend he is today, gets to bring a range of emotion in the role of Quon Ngoc Minh, a Chinese-born Vietnamese restaurant owner who practically loses everything dear to him when his daughter is killed in the first five minutes of the film. Sporting more grayish hair and looking somber for the first half of the film while shedding tears because he truly has no family left, Quon soon turns into someone not so much seeking revenge, but justice.

However, while the title may focus on Chan’s Quon, the film really amps tension around Pierce Brosnan’s conflicted character of Liam Hennessy. Hennessy’s opening scene sees him with a girl who at first, some will assume is his wife. That is, until his wife calls him. Red flag number one. Two, his ties to the IRA as a former member allows him to attempt to somehow get pardons from his British superiors. Red flag number two. The list of red flags involving Hennessy just keep going, and this leads to a series of events that may pretty much put Hennessy into a corner that even with his political strength, will be unable to back out of with Chan’s Quon being the tip of the iceberg.

What many will find interesting is that the film is quite sparse on action, and becomes more of a political thriller in which double-crosses and twists are inevitable. However, when there is action, that’s when we see Jackie Chan and while there are pieces of what we expect from Chan, some of the action is turned up a few notches. Quon’s first altercation against four of Hennessy’s entourage has him use the environment, a staple in Chan’s arsenal of fight moves. However, in this case, it is amped up quite a bit.

In a two-part sequence, Quon hides in a forest-like area near Hennessy’s countryside safe house and this is where we see Quon use the environment to his full advantage. The big difference is that this is not the Chan you would expect in the first part, using a more grounded military style of action akin to perhaps Rambo while the second part treats the viewer to a very well-choreographed knife fight between Chan and Rory Fleck Byrne, who plays Liam’s military trained nephew.  Of course, this culminates to both Quon and Hennessy going on a total collision course where it is unsure who will get the upper hand until the final few minutes of the film.

The Foreigner may throw off fans in terms of its marketing, but this is truly a thriller that churns out the best performance from Jackie Chan in the last few years and Pierce Brosnan giving it his all as a conflicted man with both looking for the same answers. Despite the sparse action, the film does bring a smooth flow and should truly be checked out. This is not your typical Jackie Chan film, and that for once, is a very good thing!

WFG RATING: A

STX Films, Sparkle Roll Media Corp., Wanda Pictures, and Huayi Brothers present a Fyzz Facility and Arthur Sarkassian production in association with Quidam Studios. Director: Martin Campbell. Producers: Jackie Chan, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Scott Lumpkin, Jamie Marshall, Qi Jianhong, Cathy Schulman, John Zeng, and Arthur Sarkassian. Writer: David Marconi, based on the novel “The Chinaman” by Stephen Leather. Cinematography: David Tattersall. Editing: Angela M. Catanzaro.

Cast: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Orla Brady, Charlie Murphy, Lia Williams, Michael McElhatton, Ray Fearon, Tamia Liu, Dermot Crowley, Rory Fleck Byrne, David Pearson, Rufus Jones, Niall McNamee, Aaron Monaghan, Caolán Byrne, Katie Leung

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