There is comfort in the status quo. The normalcy of routine and set-expectations is often the perfect setting to reset one’s mindset. In real life this retuning process maybe something like brushing your teeth, sipping that morning cup of coffee, or working out. For myself, in the cinematic world, this reorganizing energy is supplied by standard, formula-following, action movies.
Movies like Die Hard (1998), the Rambo series, Highlander (1986), The Expendables (2010), and Taken (2008) hold a special place in my heart. They are Over The Top (1987) (oh I am very clever) movies that are there strictly to entertain with a strong sense of “I don’t give a shit” and self-awareness.
Now with that being said, sometimes its best to be surprised by the depth of care that some action movies dive into. Do me a favor and queue up John Wick (2014), John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017), Dirty Harry (1971), Aliens (1986), and Skyfall (2012). After watching any of those, it’s a safe bet that your line of thinking may go something like: “Damn, that movie was actually really well made. I’ll be damned.”
November through March is traditionally my busiest time at work. The stretched I have to watch movies customarily dwindles to maybe once every two weeks. I needed a reset. I needed something to remind me of how I love to lose myself for two hours at a time. I needed a swift kick-ass slap across the face to get my back into the movie watching routine.
Enter Jackie Chan.
The legend plays a humble businessman with a convoluted past by the name of Quan Ngoc Minh. The audience learns subtleties and minimal details about Minh in his deadly hide-and-seek searching for justice. It’s refreshing how screenwriter David Marconi took Stephen Leather’s novel and allowed the character development to unfurl at a nice slow pace. Throughout the movie, we as the audience are left wondering how Minh is able to best government officials and security. Even better, when the movie comes to a close…we still don’t have all the answers.
Just moments into The Foreigner (2017), the inciting incident propels Minh into a conflict for personal justice. The audience is immediately thrown into the muck of conspiracies (surprisingly compelling) and sweet Jackie Chan injected action.
The first interaction between the leveled antagonist (sorta) Liam Hennessy, played by Pierce Brosnan, and Chan sets the tone for the emotion playing throughout. Hennessy cannot comprehend how this elderly man is besting all his best efforts to protect himself and his people, and you can tell that the fact he knows what Minh looks like eats away at his own failings even more.
Its comparable to someone you are playing in a board game. You see them right in front of you, besting you with either luck or some innate skill that you just cannot grasp. With every card they draw, or words they play, your blood boils seeing them take you apart with an ease and nonchalantness (making that word up). Eventually that hatred flows through you, resulting in either a rage quit, verbal “I give up”, or just drowning of sorrows.
Such is the case watching Hennessy try and stop what Minh is able to do.
Does The Foreigner have some points that lull? Yes.
Does it have certain subplots that aren’t totally necessary? For sure.
Does The Foreigner surprise you with its finesse in maneuvering around a cliché genre to make itself far more entertaining that it has any right to be? You betcha.
STANKO RATING: B-