Jackie Chan is a living legend, well known for the impressive stunts and martial arts on display in his films. When you go to see a Jackie Chan film, these stunts are almost always the highlight. However, when it comes to The Foreigner, Chan’s latest film, he was oddly absent for a good portion of the movie. What’s left is a typical political espionage film that isn’t terrible, but doesn’t offer much to impress an audience expecting more Jackie Chan action.
The Foreigner was written in part by David Marconi, who had a hand in the less than stellar Live Free or Die Hard. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find that Chan takes a back seat to Pierce Brosnan. Some could say this was an issue with the marketing of the film, which placed Chan front and center to draw in the audience. However, the film is based on the novel, “The Chinaman” which has a very clear focus on Chan’s character. The issue with the Foreigner is something that has plagued Hollywood for some time. The writer or studio decides to think that ignoring or updating the source material will bring in a wider audience.
While the film doesn’t live up to expectations, there were a few shining moments. The film quickly gets into the main plot, with Quan Ngoc Minh (Jackie Chan) losing his daughter in a London bombing. The pain he feels is real and is easily relatable in the current political climate of the world. After questioning the authorities and finally Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a high-ranking government official, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
The beginning of the film is a rapid-fire visceral attack, moving from Minh’s depression to the acts of terrorism and guerrilla warfare that follow. However, as soon as the audience starts to settle in for a wild ride, the film shifts to explore the political side of the bombing. While the book offered a detailed look at Minh’s past, the film glosses over this in favor of a fairly bland political espionage plot. This mid-point of the film isn’t bad, and Brosnan carries it well, but it takes away from Minh and his personal vendetta, slowing the film to a crawl in some points.
Once all of the political backstabbings has been set up, the film returns to focus on Minh for a riveting finale. Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late. When you see people falling asleep in the theater, you know you’ve lost the audience, and that’s exactly what the second act of The Foreigner delivered.
Had The Foreigner stuck a bit closer to the original source material, or just been edited in a way that Chan’s character doesn’t go missing for 30 minutes or more during the second act, the film may have turned out a bit better. As it stands, while not the worst movie you will see this year, The Foreigner falls drastically short of expectations for fans of Jackie Chan films.
About The Foreigner
Synopsis: A humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities.
Director: Martin Campbell
Writers: David Marconi, Stephen Leather
Stars: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Katie Leung, Rufus Jones
Runtime: 1 Hour, 54 Minutes