Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Review: "The Foreigner" is a sometimes exciting, ultimately boring thriller

The Foreigner Review
I have always found Jackie Chan astounding. I think he's fascinating to watch, simply because he does do his own stunts. There aren't too many people in Hollywood who can fit that bill. Not a lot of performers in the business do that, so when someone does, it's slightly special. Not to mention, he's a cool martial artist and a adventurous performer. He usually does lots of fun action, there is a light-hearted tone to nearly each of his movies that has always made Chan an admirably funny performer, never really doing anything dark or gritty.

"The Foreigner" is dark and gritty, easily the darkest thing Chan has ever done. We learn that Jackie Chan plays Ngoc Minh Quan, a former Vietnam War special forces operator who now runs a restaurant in London. He's a quite man, but he's got a happy life and a daughter he cares deeply for. He drops off his daughter Fan (Katie Leung, who was Cho in the Harry Potter movies) to go shopping, and she is killed by a sudden bombing. A group called the "Authentic IRA" takes blame for the bombings. A distraught Quan wants revenge, first he bribes Scotland Yard to give him the names of the bombers, with no luck. He then tracks down and asks the Irish ministry deputy Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) and he is no help either. After some digging, Quan becomes fixated on Hennessy.

Yes, Hennessy has a secret, but by the time it is revealed he has a secret, its pretty obvious what that secret is. The movie is almost confoundingly obvious. One of those movies that doesn't try to be sly and doesn't try to be smart. Well, it doesn't try to be overtly sly or smart, but it's intentions get muddled down by little storyline at times. The movie tries to be subtle, but it also wants to be a big action movie. We've seen this type of movie a million times before, and it takes something really special to stick out in a saturated market like this. "The Foreigner" unfortunately doesn't do anything to illuminate the material, it doesn't try to bring it to a new height. It just kind of is, and it's amazingly unexciting.

Watching Jackie Chan do his thing is entertaining enough, I guess. So if you are a huge Chan fan, go to watch him kick-ass. We've never seen Chan in full Punisher mode, so that was pretty cool to see. Although I will admit that we barely see Chan in action, which is a bit of a disappointment. I also think Pierce Brosnan does a decent job here. The script is so awkwardly written than it even makes him look like an amateur.

I am not sure "The Foreigner" was meant to be a larger-than-life event. But the thing that is mystifying to me is that it barely works as light entertainment. It's so dour, so muddled, so confused as to what it truly wants to be that it probably bored audiences when it was released, and it probably is continuing to do so. Too bad.


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