Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Murphy
Director: Martin Campbell
Running Time: 114 mins
The Foreigner is a British/Chinese film about a man who, after seeing his only daughter killed in a terrorist attack in London, seeks justice by pressing a Northern Irish politician whom he believes holds the answers to who killed his daughter.
This really isn’t the film you expect it to be. Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan in the lead roles points towards an action-packed revenge thriller, but for the first half of the film, it’s actually a well-balanced, dark and often dramatically intense film. Then once you’re settled into that, it switches back to the Taken-esque action thriller you were expecting in the first place, providing some good entertainment, but getting a little stuck in developing a genuinely enthralling story.
Let’s start with the first, more dramatic half of the story. The film starts off quite literally with a bang thanks to an impressive and memorable terrorist attack sequence, and one that perfectly sets up the story of Jackie Chan’s character for the rest of the movie.
What’s great about the first half of The Foreigner is that it knows you’re expecting action, so still satisfies that with a couple of big bursts of action, but it most impresses when it comes to the slower, quieter sequences in which Chan begins his quest for justice after his daughter is killed, and he is left feeling utterly battered and alone.
Jackie Chan himself is one of the real stand-outs of the whole movie, proving that he’s actually got the dramatic chops when it comes down to it, and impresses with a genuinely nuanced performance early on, bringing home the tragic nature of his character’s situation, easily letting you sympathise with him.
So, throughout the film’s first half, we see Chan becoming more and more engrossed in the search for the terrorists who killed his daughter, to the point where he travels from London to Belfast in Northern Ireland with the hope of gaining information from an influential politician.
At first, the film continues the character’s tragic story, and continues to impress in that degree, even showing some hugely unexpected lengths to which a man will go in search of justice.
However, the second half of the film is where things start to change, and unfortunately disappoint. Despite the first act’s dramatic intrigue, the story runs out of genuinely interesting development, not managing to bring anything further to the plot than watching Chan get more and more impatient in his quest for answers, something that really does get repetitive eventually.
From then on, the movie turns back into the big action thriller you were expecting when you first went in. Despite his character’s age, Jackie Chan abruptly bursts into his trademark martial arts action, and although it’s a plot point that is eventually explained, it’s not something that feels all that organic in the middle of the story, instead feeling like the dramatic story ran out of ideas, to the extent that it could only resort to Jackie Chan’s trademark stuntwork.
A lot of the action is actually pretty good, and Martin Campbell directs a lot of the fighting sequences with an impressively brutal and striking style, meaning that the film remains an entertaining watch throughout, even if it doesn’t manage to keep up the impressive drama it had managed to establish earlier on, and that’s why I’m giving The Foreigner a 7.3 overall.