Movie Review: “The Foreigner”
Quan Ngoc Minh (Jackie Chan) is devastated. His daughter was recently killed in a terrorist attack, and he is desperate for answers. His daughter was all he had left, and she meant everything to him. Everything he did was for her, but now she is gone. Someone has killed her, and he will do everything in his power to ensure that justice is done.
Quan Ngoc Minh is a humble, small business owner, so reaches out to the local authorities for answers, but they unfortunately have none. They do not have any concrete leads regarding who orchestrated the attack. However, Quan Ngoc Minh knows the group responsible, the IRA. He does not know the names of the bombers, but he thinks he knows who does. Thus, he tracks down Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a former member of the IRA. His quest for answers starts there, and if the police do not have the evidence to get justice, Quan Ngoc Minh will have to take matters into his own hands. His enemies do not know anything about him or his past, but they will soon find out.
The Pros & Cons
Jackie Chan & Quan (+10pts)
The Action (+8pts)
The Hennessys (+4pts)
The IRA (-4pts)
Pro: Jackie Chan & Quan (+10pts)
Jackie Chan was absolutely outstanding in this movie. There was his expectedly great action sequences, but that deserves its own section in this review. Quan Ngoc Minh ended up being so much more than just an action hero. The character was in unimaginable pain, he was angry, and he was desperate to get justice. That is all fine on paper, but the actor in the role needed to bring it all to the screen, and Jackie Chan crushed it.
Maybe it was so effective because Jackie Chan is usually so cheerful. Nonetheless, he did a truly outstanding job with this dramatic performance. In order to care about this story, you need to buy into the main character’s pain, anger, depression, and desperation. It was a complex, dramatic character and Jackie Chan brought all of that to the screen magnificently. You will truly feel for the guy, and you will want to see him get whatever justice he can. Jackie Chan definitely delivered when it came to the action, but he also delivered an excellent, impactful dramatic performance, which I found to be incredibly compelling and absolutely captivating.
Con: Predictable (-2pts)
We have all seen revenge stories before, and this was one such story. This story—at its core—was about the protagonist getting revenge after the loss of someone close to them. We have all seen stories like this one many times before. Although the filmmakers tried to make the plot as confusing as possible, it was still a very predictable story.
The filmmakers knew that they had a predictable plot, and tried to make the movie more confusing to distract from that. However, all that did was make the plot predictable and confusing. Was this a huge problem? No, Jackie Chan’s performance was enough to get me emotionally invested anyway, but the plot was predictable nonetheless.
Pro: The Action (+8pts)
What can I really say here? This was an action movie starring Jackie Chan. The guy is very simply a master of action and stunts. Was he older in this movie? Yes, and is he past his “prime”? Technically, but the guy still has it and absolutely brought it for this movie.
If you were to make a list of the greatest action stunt performers of all time, you would be crazy to not put Jackie Chan near the top of that list. He is an absolute master of his craft—performing crazy stunts, and epic action sequences—and this movie was further proof of that. The action in this movie was simply awesome and Jackie Chan was incredibly entertaining to watch. His dramatic performance was outstanding, and added a lot to this story and the action in it, but if you took all of that away, you would still be left with a great action movie starring one of the greatest of all time.
Con: Maggie (-3pts)
Again, I think the filmmakers knew they had a predictable main story, so made some attempts at making it more unpredictable. Unfortunately, those attempts only made the story confusing, and Maggie’s storyline was one of those attempts. I do not want to give it away, as it was one of the few unpredictable aspects of this movie, but know that you will not care about it. You will care far more about Quan and his feud with the primary antagonist of the movie, and this character—Maggie—will feel like an after thought. Her storyline was not impactful, her motivations were generic, and her involvement was confusing. Maybe this character made more sense on paper, but I think the movie would have been better off taking this character out of the story—with a minor rewrite to fill in the gap that her character’s absence would have left behind.
Pro: The Hennessys (+4pts)
First there was Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), former member of the IRA, but now the target of a dangerous man desperate for the names of the terrorists who killed his daughter. Then there was Mary Hennessy (Orla Brady), Liam’s wife who has been dealing with the issues that have come with being married to Liam. Finally, there was Sean Morrison (Rory Fleck Byrne). The latter was not exactly a Hennessy, but was Liam’s nephew so was closely involved in the Hennessy’s storyline.
This was an added element to a predictable story that I though the filmmakers did well, and I enjoyed watching Pierce Brosnan in this role. The Hennessy’s story was filled with secrets, twists, and shocking moments. It will keep you guessing, all while you get to watch Quan Ngoc Minh making Liam’s life a living hell. Quan Ngoc Minh’s story was predictable, but Liam Hennessy’s was far from it, and I think this movie benefited from making these two characters cross paths with one another.
Con: The IRA (-4pts)
Then there was the IRA. Much like Maggie’s storyline, this storyline was another attempt to make this plot feel less predictable. Instead, this storyline was really confusing. Too much of this movie was spent trying to explain the politics of the IRA. Through trying to explain the ideals of old school IRA members, and the ideals of revolutionary new school IRA members, the filmmakers introduced an assortment of characters that were hard to keep straight.
It was just difficult trying to keep track of who was who, and what side of the fence they fell on. At a certain point, I honestly gave up trying. The politics of the IRA was clearly an attempt to give this revenge story a unique, complicated twist. However, it ended up being too complicated. You might try to follow it, like I did, but if you are anything like me then you will give up on this storyline pretty quickly. It will just feel like meaningless filler between the more interesting aspects of this story—like Quan Ngoc Minh and the Hennessys.
Grade: B+ (88pts)
I am sure you have seen plenty of revenge stories before, but this was a pretty good one. Did it have a predictable main plot? Definitely, and unfortunately the filmmakers made it over-complicated and somewhat confusing, in an attempt to make it less predictable. That was a strategy that did not work as well as they had hoped. Both the IRA storyline and Maggie’s storyline were over-complicated, made the movie confusing, and will feel like unnecessary distractions from the more interesting parts of the movie. Fortunately, there was a lot that the filmmakers got right.
Most importantly, Jackie Chan absolutely crushed this role, delivering a dramatic performance that will absolutely captivate you. He also delivered action like only he can, making for a number of great action sequences. I also enjoyed the Hennessy storyline, as their family issues were a successful attempt by the filmmakers to make this movie more than a typical, predictable revenge story. Really though, you should see this movie for Jackie Chan. It was a revenge story that was easy to get invested in, but Jackie Chan made it more than that. In a career full of great roles, this has to be Jackie Chan’s most compelling. He delivered a dramatic performance that will pull you in emotionally, and delivered awesome action sequences like only he can.