Martin Campbell, who was the mastermind of ‘Casino Royale’, was subsequently banished after the ‘Green Lantern’ debacle; but the filmmaker has made a triumphant return to form with ‘The Foreigner.’
63-year-old Jackie Chan gives his blood, body, and soul over to his character, Quan Ngoc Minh. The ‘Man’s Quest For Vengence’ film has been done before, but not with this older, more seasoned Chan. The sadness of the events in the film overtakes the actor and fills the audience with compassion. Chan is known for his fun-loving spirit, to see that all taken away is an acting achievement on its own.
Pierce Brosnan makes for a fantastic misguided foe as Liam Hennessy, and the political drama surrounding him is a credit to screenwriter David Marconi. The film is based on the novel “The Chinaman” by Stephen Leather. Marconi had good source material to work with.
Campbell especially excels in the second act when the bombs started going off, and you feel trapped and helpless, like Hennessy. The off-balance nature of the action led to the questions of, ‘How far will Quan go to get his vengeance?’ The overlapping of the revenge tale and political power struggle made for a fast-paced thriller.
Chan and Brosnan dominated the screen time and rightfully so, but Orla Brady as Hennessy’s wife brings pathos and darkness that engages and repulses in equal measure.
The action sequences are bigger than Chan, which works to give the film a global feel and doesn’t burden Chan with the task of carrying the action side of the film. That being said, fight scenes with Chan are filmed perfectly, keeping them close and personal. The action is loud, but Quan’s sadness and determination mute the volume. Chan could have had no lines, and you would have understood the movie, a testament to his physical abilities. Quan made for a great contrast to Hennessy, with his over the top speeches to the IRA.
What sets ‘The Foreigner’ apart from similar films is Quan’s ‘hero’s journey.’ The film is dark, gritty, and horrific, but filmmaker Campbell lets a tiny amount of light (hope) through to where the movie has weight.
‘The Foreigner’ is a new type of action film, with elements pulled from the 80s and 90s, the grit of past 17 years, but a touch of a new flavor that’s fitting for 2018.