In the streets of London, a rogue cell from the Irish Republican Army set off a terrorist bomb, claiming the lives of numerous citizens, including the daughter of Vietnam veteran Ngoc Minh Quan (Jackie Chan). Taking matters into his own hands, Quan sets out to find the names of the ones responsible for the attack. With the London Police too busy to assist him, however, Quan’s departs for Northern Ireland to speak with the only person who has the power and resources to give him the names, Deputy First Minister Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan). Unfortunately, when Hennessy claims to have no knowledge of the attacks, Quan is forced to take drastic measures as he sets out on a campaign to pressure the Deputy First Minister into giving him the names, no matter what.
Based on the 1992 novel “The Chinaman” by Stephen Leather, “The Foreigner” is probably one of Jackie Chan’s darker films. Anyone familiar with the movies of Jackie Chan no doubt think of his martial arts and comedic tone. Even if his films delve into crime or violence, there’s always a level of humor to keep things from getting too dark and tragic. That’s not the case for “The Foreigner.” From beginning to end, this is a thriller that takes itself seriously as it delves into acts of terrorism and the political tension between London and Northern Ireland.
Make no mistake, we do get to see Jackie Chan’s martial arts, and even though he’s pushing past 60, the man’s still got it. In “The Foreigner,” Jackie Chan takes on the role of Ngoc Minh Quan, a former special forces soldier from the Vietnam War. Using his combat and reconnaissance skills, he does everything in his power to push Pierce Brosnan’s character into locating the names of the ones who took his daughter, so he can find them and take revenge. What’s interesting is while Quan’s actions are almost just as terroristic—creating his own bombs, setting traps, stalking—he does them in a way so that there are no causalities. Even when thugs are sent to apprehend him, Quan never takes it too far, which I feel works for the character so we never feel disconnected from him. The only people he wants to kill are the ones responsible for the attack, no one else.
I also have to give credit to Pierce Brosnan for his part in the film. While Jackie Chan is the main protagonist, Pierce Brosnan serves a critical role as Liam Hennessy. He has to contend with Quan constantly harassing him, while trying to work with the London government, and his own, in locating the rogue cell. However, with the possibility of the plotters lurking in his own cabinet, it turns into a test of trust and time as the terrorists prepare to strike again, all while Quan keeps upping the threats. It all works side by side, giving us a thriller story from both Quan and Hennessy.
“The Foreigner” is rated R for violence, language and some sexual material. If films that delve into terrorist acts make you uncomfortable, then I suggest you give this one a pass. However, if you’re curious, I would give it a recommendation. There is enough tension and mystery to hold your interest, some killer stunt work from Chan, and without spoiling too much, a satisfying closing act. Which is why the final score for “The Foreigner” is a 7.5 out of 10.
Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. He currently serves as a Journalist and Copy Editor to the Coastal Breeze News and is working on becoming a Published Author.