It’s the kind of movie worth returning to the theater to see. Sean Connery had The Hunt for Red October to represent the long-time James Bond actor showing that even with gray hairs he was as great a leading man as any actor–ever–in a dramatic role. With 2017’s political thriller The Foreigner, Pierce Brosnan, with his own grey beard of the Marko Ramius variety, at last got to prove he, too, had talent well beyond his work as Bond. And audiences have never seen Jackie Chan in a role as he played in The Foreigner, delivering the kind of performance that should have earned him Oscar consideration. It’s been 2.5 years, and at last The Foreigner has made its way to Netflix for a wider audience to marvel at these actors’ performances and David Marconi’s top-notch script in the vein of Tom Clancy and Ken Follett, based on a novel by Stephen Leather.
The Foreigner features the return to the big screen of the two maturing lead actors: 63-year-old international martial arts action star Jackie Chan in his first major English film role since 2010’s remake of The Karate Kid, and 64-year-old international action star Pierce Brosnan, who, despite several smaller roles hadn’t headlined a major hit since his last stint as Bond in 2002’s Die Another Day. But The Foreigner is more–it’s a triumph–for the actors and for the action genre, providing a showcase of acting talent supported by a solid story that doesn’t miss a step from beginning to end. What was marketed like it would be another entry in the nature of Transporter or Taken, it’s actually a great follow-up to Patriot Games or Clear and Present Danger. Timely, riveting, and satisfying on every front, we recommended it here at borg as it arrived in theaters as Oscar-worthy.
Both stars have an entire portfolio of performances they tap into, that they use to foster believability in their characters. Jackie Chan has already shown audiences he has the physicality to portray an ex-special forces soldier with brains and savvy, part MacGyver and part Rambo, although it typically accompanies his trademark smile and a film full of laughs. With his grueling physical feats in film after film, he must be the hardest working actor anywhere. But in The Foreigner we see Chan convey a full spectrum of emotions as he portrays Mr. Quan, a happy, proud father who is devastated and left to seek out the people behind his daughter’s murder. He’s immensely believable and gives audiences one of the best revenge stories in decades. Think of the days of Chuck Norris fighting back in a decade of “payback” roles–but Chan brings an added level of authenticity and sincerity.
Then there’s Pierce Brosnan, who has that charisma that early on forecasted his destiny to play James Bond. At last Brosnan gets to show off that he, too, has an intense, commanding presence, a force to be reckoned with as a mature actor with gravitas, while maintaining his refined appeal and charm. He also delivers some of the best lines of his career in a convincing, rapid-fire Irish accent as political leader Liam Hennessy. Chan plays a good man pushed too far who must carve out his own brand of vigilante justice, and Brosnan a very real modern villain, but a layered villain who tries to follow a code within a dangerous cat-and-mouse game. By film’s end audiences are left eager to find out what these two performers have for us next.
Martin Campbell, who directed Casino Royale and GoldenEye, directs The Foreigner, reflecting his skill in coordinating twisty political angles while orchestrating compelling action sequences.
It’s not typical that a large supporting cast takes such a backseat to the two lead characters as happens here. Their story and strong acting carries the film. It’s also not typical when a film ties up all the threads by the end. An exciting political thriller with great performances by Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan, The Foreigner is now available for subscribers of Netflix.