THE FOREIGNER easily contains both Jackie Chan AND Pierce Brosnan’s best performances…ever. But what I was also surprised to discover is that this movie wasn’t just another Taken or solely just another revenge plot film. It is actually a stunningly great political thriller at its forefront with that zesty revenge side dish that we all know so well. It was breathtaking and fresh to witness a film where, going into it, I thought it would just be all Jackie Chan butt-kicking action but in an R rating setting. Boy was I wrong. There is action, but not too much to the point of ridiculousness, but the film has more of a political terrorist plot that had me hypnotized throughout the 2 hour run time. With all those ingredients in this pot, this is a film you definitely do not want to miss.
Simple set up: Chan’s daughter is killed when a bomb outside a shopping center in London blows up, almost taking out Chan as well. Chan wants the police to catch the bombers first, but is impatient and decides he is going to find them and kill them himself. He targets a former IRA leader who is now an Irish Deputy Minister, played by Pierce Brosnan, because the bombers claim there are from the IRA. Hence without going into any spoilers, it becomes a large political terrorist plot with cat and mouse like proportions. Chan is trying to find the bombers that killed his daughter, and Brosnan is trying to find that bombers to get Chan off his back, while trying to keep his political power, but also downplaying that he was himself a terrorist way back when.
The movie is fantastically entertaining and resonant. The entire two hours kept me after the fact that I realized that the film wasn’t going to be “just another Taken” movie. I enjoyed the unraveling of the plot and while some things took me by surprise yet some didn’t, the journey kept at it to make me completely satisfied. The action, used sparingly is excellent, and Chan is finally showing his age, very convincing that the butt-kicking he is inducing now takes a toll on him too and not just his enemies. His acting is great here too, you can feel the anguish over losing his daughter and the authorities or anyone else taking him seriously. I would like to see more of this Jackie Chan in theaters. And don’t tell me to watch the remake of The Karate Kid, yes he is good in that (especially that one crying scene) but this is on a whole other level, in a better made film.
Pierce Brosnan is masterful here too. Giving his best performance to date, and his best since the underrated The Matador. I like that he had a complicated villain plot. He wasn’t necessarily the villain, but the fact that he was a terrorist in his earlier days and then gets to be in a high standing political position was disheartening. The movie plays off that and his arc is one that I truly found convincing and scary.
Some of the credit needs to go to Martin Campbell, who is one I admire greatly who has done some fantastic work, like Goldeneye and Casino Royale, but has had a few huge misfires (Green Lantern anyone)? Here, his talents as a director are brought back into the fold, very precise camera work and great takes. This goes along with hit hits for sure. But any Jackie Chan fan out there really needs to see The Foreigner. Especially those looking for a great story to go along with it. This isn’t a Rush Hour or Taken film, where it is all action and just has Jackie Chan doing a Charlie Chaplin martial arts like performance. This is bold, hard hitting, and deep. And I can’t wait to watch it again when it comes to video.