Overview: Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan share the screen in a heavy dad-core action thriller. STXfilms; 2017; Rated R; 114 minutes.
Dad-Core Strikes Back: Jackie Chan is one of the greatest discoveries in film history. An action superstar who transcended borders and is beloved worldwide. Pierce Brosnan is also an adored action star thanks to his part in the legacy of James Bond. They are practically global icons greatly respected in the industry for their craft and ability to bring a crowd-pleasing attitude to action films. But perhaps the most undervalued asset of both Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan is their ability to be more than simply action stars. Jackie Chan can hang off buildings with the best of them, but he is also known for exuding whimsy and an affable personality. Pierce Brosnan is known for his suave and charming deliveries when executing one-liners. Naturally, the two headlining a film together should be cause for celebration. It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that this film lets both of its action legends drown in its stone-faced melodrama.
The Foreigner falls into the category of “dad-core,” that machismo-fueled action thriller for old dads to watch on Sunday afternoons with a warm beer. It takes itself far too seriously, chasing the problematic optics of “righteous” fury that were brought on by films inspired by the likes of Taken. What’s so confounding is that the heavy melodrama brought to this film seems almost out of character for everyone involved. Where is the levity in all of this? Who in some boardroom legitimately thought a Jackie Chan/Pierce Brosnan action crossover needed dated political overtones dealing with the IRA? And why is Jackie Chan playing a Vietnamese Navy SEAL?
If you had told me these two action titans would star in a film together, that just sounds like a clear recipe for success. A classic tale of East meets West. I could also picture a buddy action comedy but you get what I’m going for here.
It’s my understanding that ray-of-sunshine Jackie Chan is actually seeking out more “serious” film roles in his advanced years. At his age, nobody can expect him to do wild stunts like in his earlier career. And Chan truly shows he was always a capable dramatic performer while in the process of reconstituting his action persona here. But there’s something to be said about the charisma that made Chan the lovable superstar he is today. But hey, as long as he’s happy. Same goes for Brosnan and his role here. Part of me will continue to hold out for a return to the specific approaches both stars cultivated for themselves over the years.
Final Thoughts: Having said all that, if we’re to meet every new film on its own terms, you could do far worse than The Foreigner. The action does hit where it needs to, only it lacks the necessary staying power. It’s set to a Cliff Martinez score, always earning a film the essential brownie points. Martin Campbell, though straying away from his mass appeal sensibilities, does deliver solid filmmaking across the board. He’s one of our finest action directors, delivering two of the best Bond films ever in GoldenEye and Casino Royale. Here, he does exactly what he sets out to do. It’s just odd that it doesn’t strive for more when everyone involved is capable of much more than what we’re presented with.
Featured Image: STXfilms