'The Foreigner' is a fun action film, but it misses the point

Jackie Chan may be the film’s largest selling point, but where is he?

Jackie Chan has delighted audiences worldwide for decades. Between his hit action flicks and starring in the recent LEGO Ninjago Movie, Chan has been a Hollywood presence for as long as this reviewer has been alive. His latest film promised to highlight this popularity in a new light, but unfortunately, it doesn’t deliver. 

The Foreigner,” directed by Martin Campbell, stars Chan as humble businessman, Quan Ngoc Minh, in London with a buried military past, who suddenly has his world turned upside down when his child dies in a terrorist bombing. With nothing left to lose and only justice to gain, Chan sets out on a hunt to find the people responsible for her death and bring about the justice he feels his daughter deserves. 

The premise alone is enough for anyone to want to escape to the theater for a few hours. Starring Pierce Brosnan as Liam Hennessy, a political leader for Ireland whose motives and involvement in the bombing are unclear. The duo have an interesting dynamic between them.

For Hennessy, he ultimately wants to see freedom for his people from Britain as a member of the Irish Republican Army. Consistently denying involvement in the bombing, Chan makes it his mission to find out what that is and the men who carried it out. Both are a delight to see on screen, even if Brosnan is a little stiff. 

The action throughout is clean and crisp with easy to follow camera movements. Part of the great fun in the movie is wondering what Chan will do next. The film begins to falter, though, when it comes to plot. 

The first act of the movie is slow to say the least and is where the film first starts to fall apart. As Mihn’s role in the film is largely reacting to the events that happen around him, the film has to pull double duty as it explores his reasoning for wanting justice and forwarding the political plot. This is where the film starts to feel unbalanced, leaning away from Chan.

Hennessy is definitely an interesting character in the film, between his loyalties to his people and his job, but the film wasn’t supposed to be about him, and it often times feels like the director forgot about that. If audiences watching the film find themselves asking, “Where did Jackie Chan go?” they have every right. There is a solid portion of time toward the end of the second act and into the third where his character isn’t seen for at least 10 minutes. I mean, Chan needs something to react to in the plot, right?

After this disappearance though, it’s a wonder why this film is titled “The Foreigner” in the first place. After all, Brosnan definitely has more screen time. While it was nice to see some representation in a film where an Asian man was the action hero, still the white man that the plot favored overshadowed his role. 

Instead of being the type of layered action film starring an immigrant as the hero the trailers promised, “The Foreigner” fails on its promise because even though Chan proves he is still a martial arts master through fun action sequences, he isn’t treated like the main character he should have.

Overall score: 2/5.

“The Foreigner” is rated R and is in theaters now.


Reach the reporter at Owen.Baldner@asu.edu or follow @BaldnerOwen on Twitter.

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