Jackie Chan returns to his acrobatic past in ‘The Foreigner,’ this time as Quan Ngoc Minh, a former special forces soldier on a quest for vengeance against a terrorist cell that killed his daughter. The movie opens with Quan picking his daughter, Fan (Katie Leung), up at school to buy her a dress for a dance. While Quan waits outside the store, a bomb goes off, killing Fan. Quan learns that the attack was carried out by members of a splinter cell of the Irish Republican Army.
The next hour and a half of the film follows Quan’s rampage against the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Liam Hennessey (Pierce Brosnan). Hennessey is a reformed member of the IRA, now working to mend relations between Britain and Northern Ireland. Quan believes that Hennessey still has ties to the IRA, and knows who is responsible for the death of his daughter.
‘The Foreigner’ wastes its potential as a political thriller. Instead of addressing the complexities of Britain and Northern Ireland’s tense relationship, the director, Martin Campbell, leads the audience through a manic series of fight scenes. Chan retains his former athleticism, but he’s clearly older and less capable than his past self. It seems like Campbell is trying to force Chan into his younger character.
Because of the scattered nature of the plot, the audience is left questioning who the protagonist is until the last 10 minutes of the movie. Quan comes off as almost senile, bent on avenging his daughter, without knowing who to blame. He pursues Hennessey between London and Belfast, bombs his office and home, and threatens his family. Brosnan’s performance as Hennessey is near-emotionless and it’s impossible to tell what you’re supposed to think of his character, even after the credits roll. The mania of Quan, coupled with the blandness of Hennessey left me frustrated and not at all invested in the outcome of the movie.
As with all of Chan’s movies, the choreography is phenomenal. While Chan is getting older, he manages to stick with his style of filming fight scenes with as few cuts as possible. I was able to wholly appreciate the action, without getting annoyed at obtrusive cuts.
‘The Foreigner’ cannot compete with the Jackie Chan movies of the ’90s, but at the very least, it’s fun to watch Chan kick the stuffing out of some stereotypical bad guys. With that being said, Campbell missed the mark on what could have been another Chan classic.