Review: The Foreigner wastes Jackie Chan in a movie that doesn’t know what to be
How hard is it to make a rip-off of Taken? The new movie by Goldeneye director Martin Campbell argues it is damn hard. What was sold and should haven been a simple but entertaining movie about a grieving father – that happens to be played by legend Jackie Chan – instead gets side-tracked with boring, dated politics in a movie that blends 2 far better ideas into a 1-hour-and-53-minute mess.
An emotionally intense and effects-heavy opening scene makes you think The Foreigner will be exactly as action-heavy and Taken-like as you probably imagined. For the first 30 minutes or so we believe in Quan Ngoc Minh’s (Jackie Chan) quest for revenge as he politely goes and ask every person he can for information on the IRA-bombers that killed his daughter.
His search for answers (more specifically, names) brings Minh to Irish government official, Liam Hennessy – played by the quietest Pierce Brosnan has been in a while. This is where The Foreigner takes a turn for the worse. The movie is based on a 1992 novel when the IRA plot was actually relevant and logical instead of forcing a rogue-cell sub-plot that introduces about 10 secondary characters that take too much screen time and makes Jackie Chan kind of unnecessary for the plot.
We are left with essentially a political thriller that somehow was marketed as an action movie, and some of it is actually good. Brosnan’s Liam, Hennessy gets the most character development – makes me wonder why he wasn’t the main character in the first place – and his story about a former IRA member who decided to play politics to avoid bloodshed while now trying to prevent The Troubles from happening again is actually interesting. Despite being cast against type, Brosnan manages to put his tuxedo and martini aside and make do with the quiet intensity and rage of Hennessy.
Jackie Chan also surpasses expectations. He proves that he’s more than the ass-kicking, joke-cracking comedy-action hero we know. Whenever he’s on screen, Chan conveys the pain and suffering of his character, and his action stunts are as good today as they were 20 years ago. The Foreigner does try to give fans all of Chan’s greatest hits, from hitting thugs with chairs, to tying a guy’s wrist with a cloth to prevent it from using a knife, to jumping out of very small windows. The problem is that the action scenes are too few and too spread out. The result is an action movie with not enough action, and a political thriller with too much action that it distracts away from the sinister calls and political threats.
The Foreigner bites more than it can chew and blends together two solid movie ideas into a convoluted political action thriller with not enough Jackie Chan to be worth more than the price of a matinée ticket.