Jackie Chan plays the person that the title “The Foreigner” refers to, though nobody ever calls him that. They tend to call him “Chinaman,” as in, “That bloody Chinaman!” Halfway through I thought: I bet this movie was originally called “The Chinaman.” Sure enough, it’s based on a 1992 novel (by Stephen Leather) that had that very title. Can’t imagine why it didn’t survive the adaptation process.
Anyway, it’s good to see the 63-year-old Chan again, in his first major onscreen appearance in a wide-release film since “The Karate Kid” remake seven years ago. This is a serious-minded cat-and-mouse thriller, not a chopsocky romp, and Chan plays a man seeking justice for his murdered daughter, not a comedy figure paired with an incongruous partner who doesn’t understand him. But he still gets a few opportunities to kick butt in the traditional Jackie Chan fashion, in the service of a story that’s well suited to him as he approaches his senior years, even if it does lose its focus and even if Chan is not the main character.
He plays Quan Ngoc Minh, a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee in London whose teenage daughter is killed in an IRA bombing — the first such attack in 19 years. The sudden violation of the peace accord has everyone in the British government spooked, including Liam Hennessy (a purring Pierce Brosnan), the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland who repented of his own IRA terrorism 30 years ago. Quan comes to Hennessy wanting the names of those responsible for the blast. Hennessy says he doesn’t know who went rogue. Quan doesn’t believe him. Quan, it turns out, also knows how to make explosives, and how to send
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B (1 hr., 54 min.; )