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REVIEW – “The Foreigner”

Resurgences of our favorite action stars are in these days, so it feels almost late that we’re getting a legitimate Taken-esque return to form for Jackie Chan. This isn’t a total shoot-em’ up action extravaganza where Jackie Chan mindlessly and carelessly kicks bad-guy ass with some pointless wrap-around plot. There are plenty of applaud-worthy moments to be found in this film, but I think many will be satisfied and surprised by how thoughtful and personal of a storyline The Foreigner has. The film follows Quan (Jackie Chan) who is a humble and quiet owner of a small restaurant. After his daughter is killed in an unexpected terrorist attack, Quan seeks justice and begins a game of cat-and-mouse with government official Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) who he suspects has knowledge of the identities of his daughter’s killers.

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I was pleasantly surprised by this from the get-go, as the film isn’t afraid to slowly build-up its story and characters – making for something a bit more realistic and socially relevant to latch onto opposed to other action films these days. There is a sense of authenticity to the terror attacks that occur in this film, and the way they’re depicted so harshly. For better or worse, depending on what you’re looking for in this film, The Foreigner is mostly a political thriller with action sequences with brisk fight choreography and extreme brutality sprinkled in throughout its running time. I feel like most of the time when reviewing action films, I either criticize the action for not doing its job or the story for being too drawn out and weighing down on the rest of the film. I don’t have either of those complaints with this film, but instead, think it balances both its story elements and action sequences greatly.

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Aside from being more gripping and timely than I was expecting, the best aspects of this film are the performances from its veteran actors who are given legitimately solid material to work with. Jackie Chan does a fantastic job of portraying a truly broken down man who just wants justice for his daughter. As you learn more about the character and his past, his inherent tragedy becomes more and more heartbreaking. Chan conveys the pain behind the eyes and the pure rage to finish the job nearly perfectly. Pierce Brosnan also gets quite a bit of screentime in this film, and gives a surprisingly excellent performance as a jaded, dirty-handed political figure. The two of them work wonders with this cat-and-mouse story and contrast each other brilliantly. It’s a blast and genuinely riveting to see them work off one another.

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My complaints here are minimal, but I do think the film feels a bit longer than it actually is towards its third act and you begin to feel the story stretching out more than you’d like by the time you reach the ending. Luckily, you don’t really feel this way until it’s already close to being over and you’re already emotionally compelled by the film. Small nitpicks aside, I was taken back by how fully immersed I was into the story and its characters. This isn’t necessarily a perfect film, but it just does such a great job at being a contained, character-driven action film that doesn’t meander or exploit. It’s somewhat timely, somewhat subversive within its material and use of an infamous action star, but is ultimately well worth your time and money. 4/5.

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