Quan (Jackie Chan), a restaurant owner in London, loses his daughter, his only family, in a bombing claimed by the “Authentic IRA.” However, he has a special set of skills and uses them to find the killers and forces former IRA activist and current British Deputy Minister Liam Hennessey to get him the list of names of the killers in “The Foreigner.”
I first recall Jackie Chan way back in 1981 as the crazy Japanese driver/contestant in “The Cannonball Run.” Since then he has become an icon of martial arts action movies, including and especially many comedy adventures. “The Foreigner,” for those fans expecting the old Jackie, will be satisfied, surprised or disappointed.
That said, although “The Foreigner” is based on the novel, The Chinaman (1992), by Stephen Leather, it feels like director Martin Campbell and screenwriter David Marconi were influenced by “First Blood (1982),” “Patriot Games (1992)” and “Taken (2008).”
Actually, to me, “The Foreigner” is two quite separate movies that have ties to each other. One of the films is about Quan, his tragic losses – first, his wife and other daughter murdered by Thai pirates and, now, his beloved remaining child to a political terrorist attack – and his revenge. You slowly find out about his background and how and why he is a formidable one man army obsessed with finding his daughter's murderers. This is the apolitical half of “The Foreigner.”
The political drama revolves around Liam Hennessey, the bombing, the conspiracy (there has to be a conspiracy) and betrayals. You need a score card to keep track of the good guys and the bad guys (and the good/bad guys) as the British government, Liam and the “original” IRA try to uncover the “authentic” IRA bomber cell. While this drama unfolds, Quan, like an annoying mosquito, keeps sniping at Hennessey and his formidable forces to get the “list.”
It amazes me that Jackie Chan is able to still do his wonderfully choreographed stunts that made him world famous. He does them all here, maybe not as quickly as before, and, again, is a treat to watch. This is a serious, dramatic role and Chan, as Quan, is a man of few words but a great deal of emotion. My regret is that there are long interludes without Jackie in the film.
The story of a renegade IRA splinter group bombing innocents is timely, unfortunately, and rings all too real. The hunt to find and stop further bombings and bring the perpetrator to justice is muddled with the political conspiracy Liam and his men are embroiled in. This story has a Tom Clancy feel and is interesting enough until Jackie is back on the screen, which is the draw for me. I give it a B-.
Laura did not see this film.
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