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Tag Archive: Martin Campbell


Review by C.J. Bunce

The Foreigner features the return to the big screen of 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 hasn’t headlined a major hit since his last stint as James 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 looks like it could 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.  If you can get past a title that doesn’t quite fit, you’ll find a fully loaded, political thriller like the novels of Tom Clancy in his heyday–timely, riveting, and satisfying on every front.

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 only now do 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 with Chan there’s an added level of authenticity.  Then there’s Pierce Brosnan, who has that charisma that early on forecasted his destiny to play James Bond.  Brosnan has now stepped into the rarity of being an ex-Bond actor but with similar class and style as exhibited by Sean Connery, who successfully forged a second acting phase of his career in films like The Hunt for Red October and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  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.

What appeared to be a standard dramatic trailer for The Foreigner served the film well, holding back why the story is so intriguing.  Unlike most trailers these days that give away too much, the trailer for the film provided only a hint at what the story entails, a mainstream drama about domestic terrorism in England and a search by one man to learn the truth when his daughter is killed in an explosion.  London has had more than its share of terrorist incidents and the jarring visuals in the film mirror real-life horrors in England, although the twist is that the villainy is from within, as some faction of the Irish Republican Army is returning out of the past, and ex-IRA leadership and the government in England must play a delicate game of practical politics to learn who exactly is responsible.  Few recent films have shown a balance of timely real-world atrocities while crafting such an intriguing fictional story.  Although not something on the front pages in the U.S., the real-life faction of the IRA began a return to hostilities in 2011, so the story is a bit “ripped from the headlines” and for a U.S. audience a surprising return of those early 1990s themes from Patriot Games.

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James Bond fans loved when they could choose between two Bonds.  It only happened once, back in 1983 you had your choice of then-current Bond Roger Moore starring in Octopussy, or the back-from-retirement Bond Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again–the outside of canon Bond film created during a contract dispute.  But as much as we think the current Bond, Daniel Craig, is perfect as Bond, who wouldn’t want to see Pierce Brosnan return one more time?

We’ve no hope to see Brosnan return again as Bond, but we may be getting a taste of just that later this year when Martin Campbell, director of Brosnan in GoldenEye and Craig in Casino Royale, returns to direct Brosnan–this time as antagonist–in the action film/drama The Foreigner.  The Foreigner is even bigger news for Jackie Chan fans, as Chan will star as the film’s hero.  American audiences have been begging for his return for years.  They really haven’t seen Chan since 2010’s remake of The Karate Kid, and in full martial arts mode it’s been ten years–back in 2007’s Rush Hour 3.

Veering away from Chan’s normal, light-hearted summer popcorn movie use of his incredible martial arts skill (along with his notable team of stuntmen) The Foreigner is a serious drama, delving into modern-day terrorism as Chan’s character seeks revenge for his daughter’s death.  Like the similar vibe seen in the Transporter and Taken series, the first trailer for The Foreigner reveals some fine wall-to-wall action.  But a sense of Chan’s clever use of his high octane martial arts style in troubling situations is also obviously peppered into the film.

Here is the first trailer for The Foreigner:

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