by John Sullivan
Jackie Chan has done it again with his performance in “The Foreigner,” reminding action and drama fans of his ability to deliver a memorable performance. A dramatic take on action thrillers, “The Foreigner” is a darker and more sinister return of the master of action movies. Chan plays Mr. Quan, a restaurant owner in the London Chinatown. After his daughter is killed by an improvised bomb outside a roadside storefront, Quan takes matters into his own hands to bring justice to the bombers who killed his daughter.
Pierce Brosnan plays Liam Hennessy, the IRA representative to Britain. The bombers are linked to the IRA, and Hennessy is faced with the possibility of sedition within his ranks. He is assaulted on three sides: from the British government and police harassing him for information on the bombers, from the IRA itself as he struggles to figure out who is behind the bombings, and from the unrelenting pressure of Mr. Quan, who begins a guerilla warfare campaign against Hennessy after he fails to give Quan the bombers’ names.
Chan’s performance as Quan displayed the extent of his acting abilities. The film gives him no cheap, comedic outs to excuse cheesy action like the “Rush Hour” movies. It is shadowy and serious; surprisingly, Chan thrives in this environment. The more realistic action scenes showcase his talent as a stuntman and create visually stunning sequences that maintain enough realism for suspension of disbelief.
His acting chemistry with Brosnan is remarkably potent as the strong wills of their characters collide throughout the movie. Chan’s cold and silent demeanor dances devilishly well with Brosnan’s strong and intense delivery. Although they do not share the screen often, this chemistry extends into their individual performances as Brosnan responds to Chan’s assaults on him and his property.
Brosnan delivers an inspiring performance that rivals that of Chan. Whenever I see him in a movie, I recall James Bond from “Golden Eye,” but Brosnan rises above the shadow of his simpler previous role. Brosnan delivers an impassioned portrayal of a very complex character and perfectly captures the internal conflict within Hennessy through his subtle facial twitches to the comfort and reassurance with which he holds his ever-present tumbler of whiskey.
Ultimately, “The Foreigner” is a nice blend of action and dark drama that doesn’t offer much newness. The plot is fascinating and scarily relevant in the current political climate. It deserves serious commendation for stellar pacing that allows dramatic scenes to flow naturally in and out of the action without creating jarring transitions or cuts. Chan and Brosnan give fantastic performances that add to the depth of their characters. This movie stands out as one of the best action movies in recent memory and marks a powerful return for everyone’s favorite action star.