It’s nice to see Jackie Chan kicking ass again.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it many times before but expectations can make or break a film. You’re opinion of a film will be vastly different if a film is marketed as a comedy and you get a horror film than if you got what you expected it to be. Which is why I absolutely believe the story of a woman suing because she expected Drive to be a Fast and the Furious-esque film and she got a cerebral character analysis of a murderer (or something). And although the disconnect of the film is not as strong as those movies, The Foreigner also has that same sort of problem.
It’s marketed as a Jackie Chan action film and part of it is that. Jackie Chan is doing what he does best: action set pieces with awesome stunts. What’s different this time around is that the story of this movie is more grounded in a serious topic, that of terrorism. Jackie Chan plays a father trying to get revenge on the terrorists who killed his daughter, a role that he plays wonderfully in a subdued way. There is a cold callousness to his character that makes you sympathize with him in an immediate way.
This film is, however, not really an action film. There are absolutely action scenes but it’s a lot more political than the trailers lead on. Pierce Brosnan is a former member of the IRA (which the terrorists claim to be a part of) and his efforts are to keep the peace. His motivations are entirely devoted to making sure no more blood is spilled between England and Ireland. Jackie Chan, however, doesn’t believe him, which leads the viewer to have an interesting disconnect with our supposed hero. Is he righteous? Or is he a grieving man grasping at anything that could be connected to his daughter’s death? The answers aren’t so clear, which is a common theme in this film.
Pierce Brosnan’s own character seems beset on all sides within his own Mob-like political family. People have their own agendas and they’re working against each other in a sort of Game of Thrones like way. They’re shadow games are being forced to light through the actions of an old Chinese man who want’s answers no matter the cost. These actions continue to reverberate and expand beyond to affect even the lives of highest levels of government.
I personally can’t fault this film for being different from my expectations. I actually love it when a film can actually surprise me. That being said, I was expecting a Jackie Chan movie and got a majority of Pierce Brosnan with Jackie Chan feeling more like a side-character. I was expecting an action movie and I got a political thriller tied directly to The Troubles in Ireland, an event in history that I have no frame reference for or background on to see if this film is actually accurate in how it treats the subject matter.
The film is not a bad movie at all. In fact, I was engrossed by the whole thing. It’s not really a Jackie Chan centric movie though, which might be off-putting for some viewers. Even the final act sort of falls flat because it’s trying to wrap up a million different threads and it doesn’t really feel as climactic as it could have been. Then again, maybe that was the point.
I’m sorry if my feelings of this film aren’t as clear but they’re really not. For every flaw I find, I find a reason to justify it. There’s a sense that a majority of the film is kept in a dark from everything else, trying to stay hidden from the world. It was an enjoyable mystery to watch but at the end, I’m not sure what I took away from it or if anything was really solved in the end. It was a fun ride but it wasn’t really satisfying in the end. Again, which may have been the point.