The Foreigner (2017) ☆ ☆ ☆

As senior-citizen action films go, this one is pretty good.  That’s not really fair; star / producer Jackie Chan is only 63, and is still better equipped to tackle movie terrorists than most of us will ever be.  And let’s admit it — movies like this are darned entertaining when old guys like Jackie Chan and Liam Neeson and Sylvester Stallone go around kicking the butts of all these younger guys.  It gives us hope that the older generation still has some punch left in it.

Martin Campbell’s film has London restauranteur Quan Ngoc Minh (Chan) grieving the loss of his teenage daughter, killed in a terrorist explosion.  With no family left, Quan determines to find and punish her killers, following news reports about British official Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), whose former ties to Irish insurgents may not be, well, untied.  Quan mounts a one-man operation against Hennessy, which escalates into all-out war as the double-dealing politician fights for his political life.

Based on a novel by Stephen Leather (“The Chinaman”), the film is intricately plotted, playing out like a James Bond thriller — director Campbell helmed both GoldenEye and Casino Royale, so he knows his way around the genre.  What surprises is that room is afforded the actors, especially Brosnan, to develop their characters beyond the usual tropes.  The result is that the drama is intense, rivaling the action sequences for viewer appreciation.  The weakest link may be Chan, who delivers the action but doesn’t emote with the élan of his colleagues.

Still, this is a step up from standard action fare, and it provides Pierce Brosnan with his best role since The Matador.  It is compelling drama and solid action, although the action does take a back seat to the dramatics.  I recommend it.  ☆ ☆ ☆.  6 November 2017.

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