RATING: ★ 1/2 (out of four stars)
There once was a time where I got super excited when Jackie Chan got cast in an action movie. Even though most of them have similar plots, I still loved seeing Chan kick ass. When I first saw the trailer for The Foreigner, it was exciting because I thought I was going to get an action-packed Jackie Chan movie showing him in a rare troubled state. Unfortunately, The Foreigner is pretty messy and very cliché.
The story follows Quan (Chan) looking for the people responsible for an explosion that killed his daughter. One of the main problems with that is she dies within the first minute of the movie and literally don’t even get her name. Then, they try to make you care about that fact Quan lost his daughter, but you simply don’t because there was no character connection ever established between them. There are other issues in The Foreigner, with the main one being how the plot is extremely convoluted and cliché. In a movie like this, there is absolutely no reason to have such a complicated story. Not only is it messy, but it is also simply not interesting. I found myself checking my watch twice in the first 45 minutes. The other big issue was the lack of character development. So many characters are thrown at you and there’s no way to keep up with their names or care about them. The only two you have any details on are Quan and Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a powerful political figure with ties to the people responsible for the bombing.
Almost everything about The Foreigner is unoriginal. The cinematography and the score are basic, uninspired, and dull. Quan also has a back story that is barely touched on for the first hour of the movie. One can guess that he is ex-military or something, but demonstrating him making bombs and doing very impressive hand-to-hand combat without a clear reason feels very odd. By the time it gets to his back story (which is some cheap flashbacks and military files), it is honestly hard to even care.
The only aspects that made The Foreigner slightly enjoyable were Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan’s performances. Chan gets the rare chance to portray a troubled, grieving man and he did a decent job. It is clear that he’s lost a step in the action scenes, though. They weren’t bad, but he’s had much better fight scenes. You kind of have to cut the man a break, though; he’s 63 years old. Brosnan had some scenes where he got to show off his acting chops, which was pretty impressive. He’s a pretty underrated supporting actor in most of the movies he stars in. Now, if only the screenplay could have been simple enough to display Quan hunting down Hennessy without a dozen side characters and plots, maybe The Foreigner would have been decent.
In the end, The Foreigner is pretty disappointing. This is not a movie you should go spend two hours of your time watching in a theater. Redbox is the only acceptable way to watch this, but even then it has to be on a rainy Sunday when you have nothing else to do.