The most revelatory thing I learned while watching The Foreigner is that Pierce Brosnan can actually act. He really turns in a stellar performance here. In a film whose characters all play the same note, he adds great variation to his. Arguably Brosnan’s character, a presumably reformed IRA chief, Liam Hennessy, is the central figure of this story. In the end it is he who comes to shame and epiphany. Only his character has shifting ideas of right and wrong.
Of course, Executive Producer and star Jackie Chan is why we came. I’m not sure how many times I leaned over to D to mention that he does his own stunts. “See how he lit that photo with the lighter? He actually did that.” I guess I am just a huge Jackie Chan fan. And Jackie, who to me is timeless, does kick some royal, well actually rogue IRA ass.
It took me a while to warm up to the story and to who the bad guys are. Which is good because it does keep you off balance about the antagonists for awhile. There are obvious homages to Taken, Taken 2, Taken 3 and even more to Rambo, in the best way possible. One reason to catch The Foreigner in the theatre as opposed to watching it on TNT next year is that it is shot in widescreen (2.39:1 aspect ratio) and it does take you on a ride with strong aerial footage and intense exterior situations.
There is also a certain gravitas to the film. I made D sit through the credits, as he has made me do during Marvel movies. Jackie Chan movies often have a whole series of the bloopers and goofed up stunts he did in the film on a split screen with the credits. But The Foreigner had no such outtakes. I think that Jackie Chan wanted to measure up to Pierce Brosnan and say, “Hey, I can act too. I can be serious too.” He did do a fine job in his portrayal of Quan Ngoc Minh, whose heartbreak and capacity for vengeance is boundless.