“The Foreigner” is an entertaining action thriller that could’ve been easily disposable, but its two leads elevate the material in formulaic but intriguing ways.
It stars Jackie Chan as Quan, a businessman living in London whose daughter is killed in a terrorist bombing. He’s determined to stop at nothing to track down the terrorists responsible, and get justice. This premise could’ve found Chan delving into a performance that is one-note, but he brings a surprising amount of gravitas to the role.
Pierce Brosnan costars as a British government official who was an Irish Republican Army member, and he is relentlessly pursued by Chan for information on the terrorists. His character has a supposedly ambiguous role that may or may not turn out to be that way. He also does a good job and he isn’t miscast. But his character is a dead giveaway.
Chan gets to unleash his inner Jason Bourne by setting up a series of traps and ingenious devices to stay one step ahead of his enemies. All the while, we learn that his character was a former special forces guy who has a shady past of his own.
Anyone expecting a typical Chan action flick may be let down as this film favors a complex plot and character development over a solid martial arts extravaganza. That’s not to say Chan doesn’t deliver some thrilling, effective scenes. At age 63, he’s still a master of his action chops despite showing some restraint.
His role as both a man of kung fu and an emotionally broken character is what I would’ve like to have seen Liam Neeson do in the “Taken” movies.
The plot does feel murky with the politics involved and it gets bogged down in cliches at just the right moments, but it makes up for that with great performances and terrific action that only Chan knows how to execute literally and figuratively.
Rated R for violence, language, and some sexual material.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.