Monday, 25 June 2018

The Foreigner ★★★★☆

The Foreigner is Jackie Chan’s first Western release since 2010, and time hasn't been kind to the martial arts star. He looks great for somebody is his mid 60’s, but he's clearly now old enough to play a subtler role convincingly. The role suits his now unassuming stature, causing him to believably shuffle around with less grace than an elderly relative with gout. The film follows Quan (Chan), who leads a simple existence in London with his daughter. She gets caught up in an act of terrorism, with a group of IRA dissidents responsible for ending her life in a bomb blast. (It's loosely based on a 1992 novel named the Chinaman, which explains why the Irish bogeyman takes the stage.)

Quan opts for vengeance, taking on the cell’s backers at their source in the Republic. (Although not before attempting to bribe the head investigator in London to give him the names of those responsible.) The audience has an idea of the skills he has in reserve, but he's disregarded by most of the characters he meets along the way. They soon learn the error of their ways, as he doggedly continues his pursuit of those responsible. Pierce Brosnan takes on a starring role as former IRA deputy minister Liam Hennessy, keen to enhance his role in the government by any means necessary. He thinks Quan is the least of his problems, and the pressure begins to mount on all facets of his life as time wears on.

“The foreigner” ramps up the pressure on the politician, while time is also running out in the English capital. The B plot follows the remainder of the terrorist cell, trapped in a London flat with little hope of escape. They're planning to set off more explosives, with the police desperately searching for them. It’s been a long time since the heyday of Goldeneye and Rumble in the Bronx, but there’s still life left in a pair of actors that have nothing left to prove.  With innumerable twists and turns until the final act, it's one you’ll have to pay attention to if you want to fully appreciate what’s going on. The Foreigner is no ‘Jackie Chan’ film, with a distinct lack of humour and a deadly serious tone.

Ladder based combat and improvised jacket tactics are always fun, but there's a time and a place for the stuntman of yesteryear. While there are no quips, it's understandable when the main character is a semi-mute, lonely man who just lost the one person in his life that he truly cared about. It’s a chance for Chan to show his range, while Brosnan oozes sleaze, like an anti-Bond. 

There's no suspension of belief, and it’s easier to watch once you get used to the gritty realism. With a combined age of 128, they may have more wrinkles than the world’s oldest Shar Pei, but age is only a number. It’s a slow burner, but it’s worth the effort to stick with it as the tension builds to breaking point.

James Millin-Ashmore

The Foreigner at CeX

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