Jackie Chan has always been a superb action star, but he became boxed in silly action comedies. So even though he got to showcase his unique fight moves/choreography plenty of times, he didn’t do that in plenty of serious action films. Hence The Foreigner came, trying to showcase what Jackie is capable of doing at his age. Especially in the “let’s showcase Jackie’s acting ability, not just the fact he can fight” department, and I think it succeeded. And even the rest of the film is made thrillingly. It grips you and doesn’t let you go until the very end. But I had one major problem.
The Foreigner‘s plot can be summed up by one sentence: “What if IRA came back?” Well, it is a frightenedly valid question, especially in the current post-Brexit climate. The movie doesn’t do the “here is what IRA was/is about”, like many other films before this one. It presumes you might have heard about them. It throws us into the terrorist attack, and we see everything through Jackie’s eyes as he loses his daughter during it (this isn’t a spoiler). Unsatisfied with nobody telling him more about who is responsible, he takes it upon himself to get “justice” for his daughter’s death. As of course, he might have had something in his past that helps him. You might say he’s got a particular set of skills… wait, wrong movie.
I am not going to lie. I have enjoyed this movie a lot. I have always loved action movies made by Martin Campbell, as he seems to know what he’s doing and can deliver consistently great blockbusters. I also liked Jackie’s performance. The fact that for most of the film, he is a serious, broken man who only wants some answers and to avenge his daughter’s death. My only issue with this film was how quickly and easily he managed to get on the right track determining who was responsible. And here, I will have to go spoilers to explain it properly…
Beware, SPOILERS are coming!
The whole plot of this movie relies on Jackie’s character doing his investigation. Great. And he sees one article about Pierce Brosnan‘s character having his past linked with IRA. But he no longer is involved, as that was 30 years ago, and he is a prime minister now. But Jackie somehow knows to go to him and demands names. And this is where the movie loses me a bit – of course, Pierce’s character is behind it. Pretty much the first Irish man Jackie sees (and the most powerful, you know, as Pierce’s character is the prime minister) must be involved with IRA, just because he was once involved. I understand what the movie was trying to say. If you were once involved with a group like this, you are never fully out, but… this just seemed lazy to me.
Because The Foreigner is anything but lazy, all the other storylines and plots throughout this film were fun and intricate, which I liked. But the main storyline or the way Jackie arrived at the correct solution by basically going to the first Irish man he saw, somehow presuming he knew something… Give me a break. If we had some scene where we could see Jackie’s character getting a tip from “an old friend, who is still in the game” or something like that, I would have been way happier. Because the way the movie went about this was almost anticlimactic. And also, really lazy. Because think about it – what if Pierce’s character wasn’t actually behind the attack? We would have had a way different story on our hands, where Jackie’s actions (effectively blackmailing Pierce’s character just because of his past) would have been way harder to justify. Luckily, he was right, so I guess a bullet dodged there…?
What annoys me the most is, if it wasn’t for that detail, I would have no reason to rate this movie higher. Everything else was enjoyable. The action sequences were nice and clear, I have appreciated the more intricate storylines “on the side”, and I liked how they only gave us “enough” information about Jackie’s character. We only learn a bit about him. We can tell he was some sort of special forces in the past, that is why he’s as good as he is, but there is still this mysterious cloud about him, where you can tell there is more to him.
I appreciated that most of the actors were Irish or from the UK (as the story takes place in Ireland and England), so nobody needs to pretend to have an accent. Even though I will admit, it was weird hearing Pierce’s Irish accent in its full… glory? Irishness? Either or, it was great seeing or mainly hearing that fact, as too often, it’s some American actor(s) trying British accents for better or worse.
Overall, The Foreigner is close to a perfect action movie, full of intricate storylines. Jackie Chan is doing something he hasn’t done in a while (and I would say for mainstream audiences, this might be their first time seeing him act in a more serious film), and the movie doesn’t bore you one bit. It’s just a shame about the main storyline, how easy it was for our hero to be correct, and how effectively he “stumbled” upon the right answer. But other than that, I can’t fault this movie. It’s definitely worth the watch.
That’s all for this one! Did you see it? What did you think about it? Let me know!
Until next time,