The Foreigner (2017)

Posted in Reviews by - December 18, 2017
The Foreigner (2017)

Measured British thriller from GoldenEye and Casino Royale director Rob Marshall, based on the book The Chinaman by Stephen Leather. The film is both a study on the political jostling between the British and Irish governments following the Northern Irish peace process and the need to control a new, violent, youth-led republican movement, who start letting off bombs all over London. But it is also a Death Wish-style vigilante action film which sees a haunted Jackie Chan play an ex-special forces┬árestaurant owner who takes matters into his own hands when his daughter is killed by an IRA bomb. Pierce Brosnan is fierce as Ireland’s fire-breathing Deputy First Minister and a former IRA leader – a cipher for Martin McGuinness, who died in 2017 – who is walking a tricky political tightrope in trying to appease renewed IRA sentiment in Belfast and his alliance with the British government. He’s also having an affair and his wife is sleeping with his nephew. The story expertly unfolds into an expansive tableaux of murder, political intrigue and revenge, which feels strongly prescient and never once panders to its audience. The film’s sense of foreboding is boosted by an electronic soundtrack and grey, drizzly autumn landscapes. London’s streets look ominous through Marshall’s lens, and the murals of Northern Ireland show a country where the ghosts of sectarian violence are all too apparent. Chan’s vigilante embodies the everyday anger of marginalised people directly affected by acts of terrorism. It is encouraging to see Chan – who also acts as producer – take such a dramatic risk so late in his career, particularly given his status as a global superstar personified by mostly light, comedic fare. His haggard, harangued expression, quiet desperation and monotone delivery shows that Chan can be just as affecting when acting in a second language. The action feels biting, authentic and never once incongruous – even when Chan goes rogue and camps out in the Irish woods, like Ray Mears meets Rambo. It is the Chan film that his long-term fans have been waiting for.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

1 Comment

  • Fran

    Loved the review. Enjoyed the film too

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