The Foreigner Doesn’t Quite Live Up to Expectations
The Foreigner manages to prove my suspicion that Hollywood seems to have a new obsession proving that old men can still kick ass. Jackie Chan now joins the ranks of Liam Neeson, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as an action star who also happens to enjoy the early bird special. The thing is that it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to believe that he would be able to do all the things he manages to in The Foreigner. That’s probably because Jackie is the real deal when it comes to this kind of stuff and that translates perfectly to his character.
Perhaps the most unsettling thing about The Foreigner is that it’s missing Chan’s signature smile. Though that’s probably because his character is on a mission to avenge the death of his daughter at the hands of Irish terrorists. I’m not going to say that he’s going to win any awards for his performance, but it’s great seeing him get a chance to get a role that isn’t larger than life. Unfortunately, unlike Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD, his performance isn’t exactly spectacular. He does manage to pull it off well enough not to distract from the film, but he seems more like a kicked puppy than a grieving father. Overall though, I feel like I respect Chan more as an actor after this performance.
It’s not just his character that’s more grounded in The Foreigner, the action is as well. Chan still manages to pull off some incredible stunts, but they are less flashy and seem to be more practical. You won’t see him using a ladder to beat up bad guys, but he manages to put his coordination and agility on display. It’s a side of him that I actually really enjoyed getting to see and I hope that he gets a chance to show it again.
Opposite of Chan is Pierce Brosnan as an Irish political leader who has to face his wrath in the quest to find the names of the men that killed his daughter. Brosnan puts on quite the display as his character quickly loses control of the situation and lets his anger engulf him. It doesn’t help that most of his thugs are incredibly outmatched by Chan at every turn. Then again, that’s to be expected.
If there’s one thing that can be said about The Foreigner it’s that there is a deep level of commitment seen throughout it. Though it doesn’t always stick the landing (unlike its lead). Director Martin Campbell’s attempt a dark tone feels more overcast than anything else, but that could just be because the movie does take place in England. Still, it gives off more of a murky feeling than anything ominous. His films have always been hit or miss though, and while this isn’t exactly a miss it doesn’t manage to hit it out of the park either. In other words, it’s not a bad movie just disappointing.
As an action film, The Foreigner manages just fine. However, it feels like there was so much more potential to it. I suppose this is just a matter of expectations being too high. However, nothing really manages to make it stand out from most of the other generic geriatric action flicks. There’s nothing memorable about it at all. Still, I did enjoy watching Chan do what he does best while being given a chance to play a character with some real depth to him. I just wish it had given us more.