The Foreigner

Jackie Chan may be the marquee name here, but it’s Pierce Brosnan who makes this action thriller as much fun as it is.

Based on a novel with the original title ‘The Chinaman’ (smartly changed here), this story of an Asian man in London whose child is killed in a terrorist attack offers Chan a real serious star turn. But somehow, maybe because Brosnan, reuniting with director Martin Campbell, delivers one of the most lively performances of his career, the film seems tipped toward Brosnan’s slimy local political heavyweight. The movie feels as if, instead of The Foreigner, it should have been called The Homie.

Chan, straight faced and trying hard, still delivers enough of his signature and very entertaining action. Fans will be cheering. For that, anyway. And, impressed as I was at Chan’s ambitions and agility, I was having far more of a good time watching Brosnan quietly steal every second he’s on screen. It’s terrific that this actor and the industry around him has insisted and/or at least allowed a mix of credits, with films as diverse as The Ghost Writer and The Matador in there with the 007s and Mama Mias.

And then, of course, there’s the terrorism. Especially as it is set in London, the home of too many incidents of late, I have no idea how the several so-referred to ‘action’ scenes, of terrorist explosions, will play to a hey-let’s-go-and-have-fun audience. I, in particular, gasped uncomfortably, seeing a bus being blown up on a bridge, which seems to echo one of the more recent attacks. Of course I know the film was shot a long time ago. Of course I know much of what is in the film was originally in the book. But we’re seeing it now. And, to me, it’s not easy.