The Foreigner – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Foreigner – 3.5/5 – In the world of storytelling, it is perception that outwits the cause.  When you go into a film, you already are exposed to some idea of the story.  That perception is slighted, but you are still left with an unknown.  What will make or break the experience is that unknown.  The Foreigner is a story built on the idea of one man’s revenge, but turns into a thriller with an engaging political situation.  Even when there are some obvious moments of distractions, The Foreigner is an entertaining tale of intrigue, complexion and realistic consequences.

Premise:  With his daughter taken from him by a bombing in London, one man leads on a path of revenge.  As the political fallout happens in the UK,  Minh must get to the bombers before the truth comes out.

The story revolves around two main individuals directly impacted by the bombing.  That would be:

Jackie Chan as Quan Minh

Pierce Brosnan as Liam Hennessy

These two give superb performances.  Chan and Brosnan step out of their typical ‘typecast’ roles and give dramatically different characters.  Chan’s Quan Minh is living with the aftermath of the bombing that took his daughter’s life.  On the other side, Brosnan’s Liam Hennessy is trying to maintain the peace between the IRA and the UK government because of the presume ties.  Having that connection helps fuel their development.  The calm, subtle but brooding mentality brought by Chan exudes that emptiness associated with death.  This provides fuel for his drive, passion and will to find answers.  This counters to the calm and subtle nature also brought to the screen by Brosnan.  Trying to maintain a visual image while dealing with the IRA fuels the depth in Liam Hennessy personality.  He is calculative, ominous but gentlemanly.  Watching them interact provides a dynamic of meaningful circumstance.  This allows for their relationship to build beyond the traditional ‘good vs. bad’ cliché.  With all the layers of physical, emotional and honest value, it provides something realistic, raw but intense.  Outside of these two, the supporting cast is sub-par.  They are basic one-note characters associated with any kind of revenge/thriller type story.  They don’t go beyond the plot engagement, and only spew mindless one liners and become the ‘body count’ for Quan Minh.

The direction focuses on two types of genres within one encapsulating story.  What the script does is introduce the audience through a ‘shock value’ plot device (London bombing) which leads into a revenge thriller and a political drama.  With a two-fold approach, the director quickly immerses the audience into the aftermath.  What is compounded within that quick prologue branches out into a deeper web of the social, political and individual climate that encompasses Minh and Hennessy.  This allows for a characterized approach, putting forth a ‘reason’ for each man to purse the bombers.  As the film moves through the beginning, we are given a lot of exposition, unforeseen action and realistic human situations.  This leads into a mysterious web of unanswered question where the two characters try to find answers to the bombing in London.  The back and forth keeps the audience on the edge, trying to figure out who are involved.  As Minh is trying to move forward with his revenge, the political fallout for Hennessy helps add an uneasiness to the paralleling plot. The unpredictable factor of ‘what next’ helps provide a dynamic of characterization to the world that these two men are involved with.  The angling is immersive with endearing ramifications, but it also adds a heaviness to the plot.  That heaviness clutters everything, leading to forced dialogue, predictable encounters and overused action tropes.  This convolutes the enjoyment of the thriller aspect, but never completely ruins the tone or pacing.  Once this starts to rectify in a linear path, you get a few twists that lead to unforeseen consequences.  Those consequences lead into the final act, where all comes to head in an intense confrontation.  With an ‘all or nothing’ approach, it provides the audience with the layers of those consequences in a physical and emotional way.  Once the epilogue rolls, you are left with a satisfaction ending that proves worth to the main characters journey.

The visuals are very basic.  With a typical look at realistic settings for modern cities (London, Belfast) and the rest of the UK countryside, you get a grounded aspect of the world.  This allows for the gritty, brooding emotional tones to go beyond and grip you at the core.  The score is way overused in this film.  Loudness and forced percussions desensitizes some of the action scenes.

The Foreigner is a story that has layers of revenge and political aspects.  Even with some clichés and convoluted elements, there is enough to provide a thrilling experience.  If you’re a fan of the main actors or like revenge/political style films, this is one for you.  It is worth a full price for those fans, a matinee for the rest.

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