On the Red Carpet with Jackie Chan at the
debut of a new Action Thriller, The Foreigner
The Foreigner, based on a novel by Stephen Leather and directed by Martin Campbell, is an old-school, politically-minded action thriller that technically pits Jackie Chan against Pierce Brosnan. The man who revived James Bond, twice, is directing Chan in an against-type role, as a sympathetic anti-hero waging a war on government operatives who may know the terrorists who killed his daughter. The studio is hoping this “the legend has returned” thriller, along with an against-type casting, will translate into North American success beyond its global success.
Jackie Chan plays Ngoc Minh Quan, a London immigrant whose adult daughter is killed in an IRA terrorist bombing. The man has already suffered unthinkable atrocities, and he has also amassed a special set of skills. When he can’t get immediate answers as to who killed the only family he had left, he zeroes in on Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a former IRA member turned British government official who either knows may know more than he lets on. As Hennessy tries to put out an escalating political fire that could undo two years of brokered peace, Quan embarks on a campaign of intimidation and potentially violent retribution to take his revenge.
Martin Campbell is the director who resurrected James Bond twice by redefining the character while making two of the best 007 films of all time. While The Foreigner isn’t quite on the level of Casino Royale or GoldenEye or even The Mask of Zorro), it again offers us a new variation on an iconic screen persona. Chan doesn’t need any box office boost in China (he’s been in a hot streak for the last few years), but this is the kind buttoned-down, dramatic role that he’d clearly like to do as his kicking and jumping days wind down. The emphasis is on skullduggery and acting over stunt work (there are no outtakes over the end credits).