Courtesy of STX Entertainment
At the age of 63 you’d think Jackie Chan might be ready to hang up the gloves and settle down. Much like his former compatriots from the 90s era of action heroes, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chan can’t quit. He’s still looking as limber and versatile as he did when you watch some of his earlier works, but his latest vehicle (and first leading role dating back to “The Forbidden Kingdom,”) doesn’t quite match his talents, nor does it give him the type of screen time you’d think with a top billed credit.
Chan takes on the widowed and lonely restaurant owner named Quan Ngoc Minh. He doesn’t have much, save for his daughter (Katie Leung), due to his extensive history that involves the US Armed Forces. Minh’s life all comes crashing down when a terrorist bombing leaves him without the only remaining family member he had. Desperate and heartbroken, the recluse Minh begins his trek for answers and justice. That leads him to a crummy, corporate pencil pusher named Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) with one request: “names.”
When Hennessy refuses his demands, Minh takes the decision away from him. He plants homemade explosives inside his office, begins tinkering with his cronies vehicles, and even tries to blackmail him. The motive is good old fashion revenge, and the type of broken down façade suits Chan’s emotional range as an actor well. Ironically, he’s really not in the film that much. Which is strange, considering the film is called “The Foreigner,” and puts Minh front and center in the marketing. I’d estimate that Chan says approximately 20 sentences in the whole picture, with maybe 30 minutes of total screen time. Most of this belongs to Brosnan and his conspiracy theory triade on the terrorist organization known as the “IRA.” I wish the film would’ve shown us more from Chan’s perspective and gave more insight into the weight of his loss.
I also thought it was counterproductive that Minh goes on this terrorist rampage and invokes the same kind of heinous acts that killed his daughter. I highly doubt your daughter would want you to commit acts of terror, but I understand desperate times call for those measures. “Casino Royale” director Martin Campbell, pumps up the action set pieces nicely. And really, Chan manages to make this film somewhat tangible. The way he moves and conducts himself during those hard stunt sequences is all the more impressive considering his age. But, in the end, the secondary subplot revolving around Hennessy’s scheme takes away from any potential “The Foreigner” had. Regardless of how slick and smooth Chan is, there’s no question in my mind, the actor deserved a more balanced return for his old-school action roots. C