Film Review: "The Foreigner"

Martin Campbell tries to make everyone forget about “Green Lantern” with a new Jackie Chan led political thriller “The Foreigner,” and is somewhat successful.

Along with Chan, the film also stars Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, Mamma Mia!), Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones, The Zookeeper’s Wife), and Charlie Murphy (Love/Hate, Happy Valley).

Promo image for "The Foreigner."

Promo image for "The Foreigner."

After his daughter is killed in a terrorist attack, Navy Seal veteran Ngoc Minh Quan (Chan) takes matters into his own hands as he uses any means necessary to obtain the names of the bombers from a former IRA member turned politician Liam Hennessy (Brosnan).

To most people outside of China, it seems like it’s been forever since Jackie Chan has starred in a movie. The truth of the matter is that he has recently starred in movies, but only in China. Chan is still one the highest earning actors in Hollywood, and yet the U.S. doesn't get to see any of his new films, until now. So while “comeback” may not be best word to use, it still is nice to see Chan back on the big screen.

Chan is 63 years old, and he still manages to do a good amount of his own stunts. That deserves applause on its own. While there’s isn’t a whole lot of action in the movie, and the stunts themselves really are never too extreme, Chan still manages to deliver some pretty solid action that will entertain just about anyone seeing the film. It’s exciting, engaging and all around impressive to watch.

Despite Chan’s efforts, what really determines how good an action scene is how it’s shot, and director Martin Campbell does this well. The unfortunate truth of action movies is that they use shaky-cam, or in other words, they shake around and they cut the camera a bunch to make a scene look exciting, when it really isn’t at all. “The Foreigner” falls into this a couple times, but for the most, Campbell actually allows the audience to see Chan beating people up by making use of smooth camera work and plenty of wide angles.

As for the rest of the film, that is, the story part of the film, it’s okay. It’s nothing incredible, but it keeps the audience engaged for the most. As said before, there isn’t a whole lot of action in the film. Instead, this is more of a political thriller that happens to have occasional kung fu in it, which can be bit of problem when the kung fu is the best part. However, the story isn’t terrible by any means, and it does present interesting themes and ideas about terrorism, but it might drag the film a bit for some viewers.

As good as Chan is with action and stunts, his acting shouldn’t go without notice either. This is a different role for him. He gave himself sort of a “relatable goofball” character archetype in most of his earlier films, but here, the audience gets to see him hardened and grizzled. While the whole “make it brooding and serious” is nothing new to Hollywood, with him, it feels fresh. Chan emotes an impressive range of emotions in the film and the audience feels it. He gets the audience to care and root for his character.

Brosnan, as well, shouldn’t go without notice. There’s a lot of intensity to his character and he has a certain presence to him that commands the screen. He too displays a good range of emotions though his eyes and face. Not to spoil anything, but in one particular scene, Campbell makes use of a long take. It’s not super long, but the way Brosnan uses the camera with another actor builds with such intensity as it goes on that, to be quite honest, is very enthralling

Overall, audiences should know going into “The Foreigner” that this isn’t a mile a minute action film. It’s a political thriller that discusses terrorism with an occasional kung fu action scene. As is expected, Chan’s stunt work is nothing short of amazing, and his acting isn’t half bad either. Coupled with a solid performance from Pierce Brosnan, the film is a welcome return for Jackie Chan to U.S. theaters, even though his stardom still has yet to fade away over in China.