Arguable one of the most surprisingly ambitious additions to the Netflix production catalogue was ‘The Foreigner’. A seemingly cheap bust-up between two ‘has-beens’ Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan turned out to be one of the most riveting and multifaceted thrillers that has come onto Netflix’s domain. With stellar performances from both leading men, we see both actors (especially Jackie) In a light never seen before (or at least for a considerable amount of time).
Revenge seems to be the main driving force of the film; in the form of Quan (Jackie Chan). A seemingly normal middle aged father, Quan is set on a path of destruction, despair, angst and yes; revenge. Following the tragic death of his only child, whom he daunts on to such an extent it manifests itself in an almost overprotective nature. This seemingly sets the tone for the entire movie as that overprotectiveness drives the raw emotions, and indeed the ‘at all costs’ attitude we see so beautifully and tastefully displayed by Jackie Chan. Which in itself is somewhat of an outspoken plot line, in the sense that never has there really been a British Chinese/ Asian character whom is the main protagonist in a major cinematic release (bizarrely).
On the surface this sounds like a generic action movie plot, two hours of mindless shooting with a hundred plus death count by one extraordinary man to reach some apparent conclusion. The Foreigner could not be further from that narrative. As the political nature of the movie unravels, we start to understand the significance the explosion and the death of Quan’s daughter. It’s the political rhetoric and brilliant scripting that brings this movie into its own.
What is so brilliant about this movie is its pacing. Martin Campbell’s ability to tastefully drip-feed the audience with a sense of importance to each and every scene throughout (with the intermittent injection of action) shows just how abhorrently only fashioned and unnecessary a two hour ‘shoot em up’ really is.
That is not to say this movie is completely abstinent of flaws; it most certainly is not. For one, the back story of Quan himself is almost nondescript (apart from a few formalities with regards to his military background), the action scenes are still slightly too 1970’s James bond, in so far as the old ‘that would never happen’ springs to mind. However these are mere side notes, because this movie really tries to exhume excellence and tries to differentiate.
A commendable addition to Netflix’s original catalogue has to be applauded for both its ambition and its willingness to experiment. Experiment in the sense of characterisations and a plot line that is truly multifaceted and undoubtedly unique in the action-thriller genre. 7/10