The Foreigner, B
Rated R, 114 minutes
The fun, revenge-filled thriller "The Foreigner" pits two well-known movie stars against each other: Jackie Chan vs former 007 Pierce Brosnan. It's nothing new and some plot details get a little muddled down the stretch, but Chan could easily adapt into a Liam Neeson-style season action star with a special skill set.
Quan (Chan) is a humble London businessman whose long-buried past erupts in a revenge-fueled vendetta when the only person left for him to love -- his teenage daughter -- dies in a senseless act of politically motivated terrorism. His relentless search to find the terrorists leads to a cat-and-mouse conflict with a British government official (Brosnan) whose own past may hold the clues to the identities of the elusive killers.
"The Foreigner" is a relentlessly entertaining, fast-paced action thriller directed by "Casino Royale's" Martin Campbell and written by David Marconi ("Live Free and Die Hard"), based on the novel "The Chinaman" by Stephen Leather. The dense plotting has Chan tracking down the people who killed his daughter in a tragic bombing and involves a lot of terrorists and governments, but as long as it sticks with Chan's character's person, human mission, it works fine.
Unsurprisingly, the most memorable scenes have Chan in some of his trademark stunts, but also Bourne-style, close-up and hand-to-hand style fighting that gives it a dark, gritty feel. Unlike Chan's many other films, this is a serious turn that's not played for laughs or comedy, and gives him an opportunity to do more than just mug for the camera. His character's backstory, lifted directly from Leather's book, gets a little lost amidst some political IRA vs. the Brits themes designed to give the film more substance.
On that note, it could've been trimmed a few minutes in the middle act, when there's a good chunk of time that Chan is missing from the screen, bogging the film down with some extraneous characters and subplots that only add more density to its plot. "The Foreigner" works best with Chan on screen, and he's good at conveying a mixture of sadness and revenge-filled energy.
"The Foreigner" is a solid action outing for Chan, who could use this to easily transition from comedy to action star. It's worth a look for Chan's fan base or those looking for a decent action film.