Long-time readers will know just how much we love Jackie Chan here at OC Movies, but also, sadly, how painful it’s been to watch some of his recent movies. Will The Foreigner change that?
It’s been a long road to get The Foreigner onto the big screen. Originally starting out life as a book by Stephen Leather called The Chinaman, back in 1992, and subsequently adapted into a screenplay by David Marconi (Enemy Of The State, Live Free Or Die Hard).
Because of the years that have passed, the world has moved on, as it has a habit of doing. Whilst memories don’t fade, particularly those involving fighting, our attention is no longer on people such as the IRA, instead now on the taliban or ISIS.
Despite our focus being elsewhere, The Foreigner has proved to be a particularly hard sell into certain markets, most noticeably the UK and Ireland, the two places where most of the filming took place and where the action takes place.
This is perhaps understandable, but also a shame. It means they will miss Jackie Chan (Kung Fu Yoga, Skiptrace) in one of his strongest performances to date. There’s a little bit of action from him, for those of you still yearning for those times, but this is Chan in an understated performance, allowing his face and physical presence do the talking.
He plays an ex-special forces soldier who has settled into life in London running a small restaurant. His life is dramatically changed when his only daughter is killed in a bomb set by the Authentic UDI. They are an Irish militant group, pawns in a political struggle.
Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, The Matador), plays the Irish Minister, a former terrorist himself, now in a murky position between the British government and all the former UDI leaders and factions.
Brosnan performs admirably though I question why he appears to crank up his Irish accent to the point that it sounds fake, despite the fact he is actually Irish? Anyway, that aside, he is involved in all sorts of shady goings on, both at home and with the UDI. The last thing he needs is a Chinaman turning up on his doorstep demanding the names of the bombers who have killed his daughter.
This though, is exactly what Chan does. He is determined to bring justice to those who killed his daughter and identifies Brosnan as the man to help him get the names of those behind it all. A game of cat-and-mouse, who’s in bed with who (literally in some instances), and who wants what begins.
Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, GoldenEye) is the man behind the camera in his first feature film since 2011’s Green Lantern. He handles things well, there’s a nice tension when it’s required, and he pulls back during fighting, so we can see it all happening.
It’s not all plain sailing though. The Foreigner is a victim of time in more ways than the political nature of its content. We’ve seen this story-line done before, with Liam Neeson and the Taken series, along with others.
The Foreigner fails to bring anything new to the party except for some ropey continuity, awful green screen work and some stuntmen and wire work standing out like a sore thumb. It’s been done before and, being honest, it has been done better.
However, where The Foreigner shines is in the performances by both Chan and Brosnan. Chan, once again it must be said, shows us he can do more than action if someone will allow him to. His old-man, weary, hobbling, tenacious character is a triumph. Let’s hope we have more.