The Foreigner delivers exactly what it promises, Jackie Chan as you've never seen him. The titan of martial arts and comedy cinema disappears utterly in this gripping thriller. His turn as a bereaved father obsessed with vengeance will have you glued to your seats. The Foreigner is not a brainless action flick with an invincible protagonist. It has a surprisingly complex plot with multiple key characters. Veteran director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale,Vertical Limit) uses his filmmaking acumen to great effect. He reshapes a well known commodity in Chan, but never forgets the importance of the story.
A terrorist bomb in London targets a bank, but also destroys the dress shop beside it. Ngoc Minh Quan (Jackie Chan) watches in horror as his teenage daughter is killed in the explosion. A rogue cell of the Irish Republican Army calls the press to claim responsibility. This attack is just the beginning. The British government demands answers from Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a former IRA leader turned Northern Ireland MP. The peace accord between Britain and Northern Ireland hangs precariously by a thread.
As Hennessy and English security race to find those responsible, they take for granted the diminutive Chinaman showing up daily at their offices. Quan wants answers. He demands to know who is responsible for his daughter's murder. Tired of being ignored, Quan decides to shake the bush to drive out the snakes. Hennessy's disregard turns to stupefied realization. They have vastly underestimated the abilities of this lone wolf. Quan will find those responsible by any means.
The Foreigner has a detailed, well executed plot. There's an intricate back story to the terrorists actions and Quan's personal life. The characters have significant depth. They are tangled together in a myriad of lies and corruption. I honestly expected a brainless action flick in the vein of Taken. The Foreigner is far from it. The mysteries at the heart of the story are expertly revealed by Martin Campbell's deft touch.
The Foreigner is a game changer for Jackie Chan. Quan uses firearms, explosives, and engages in bloody, visceral, hand to hand combat. But his character is not invincible. He is wounded physically and emotionally. You feel the horrendous loss of his daughter. Chan does not say much in the film. His broken demeanor speaks volumes to hurt and rage. The character has lost everything and is without fear. Thus making Quan an extremely dangerous adversary. Jackie Chan chose the right vehicle and director to debut a new direction in his career.
Pierce Brosnan is equally important to The Foreigner's success. His character, Liam Hennessy, has the most dialogue and dramatic encounters. He is at the center of the storm. Besieged from all sides by the terrorists, the British, and Quan. Brosnan and Martin Campbell worked together previously for his debut as James Bond in Goldeneye. It's fitting that twenty-two years later, they collaborate again where Brosnan is not the action hero. Campbell needed another formidable presence to counterbalance Jackie Chan's retribution. Brosnan is remarkable here. He continues to be one of my favorite actors.
From STX Films, The Foreigner is a smart, engaging action thriller. It delves into areas of political intrigue that were completely unexpected. Jackie Chan makes a bold move into darker, meatier territory. He pulls it off with great direction from Martin Campbell and a brilliant costar in Pierce Brosnan. The Foreigner surpasses expectations. It grabs hold from the opening frame and never lets go.