The Foreigner (2017)
He won't stop until they all pay.
When I first saw the trailer for this movie, all I could think of was that one Arnold movie where he was a fireman and went all action hero after his daughter got blown up by a bomb. I figure I enjoyed that one enough, and now it’s got Jackie Chan in it. Probably worth a watch at some point, right? Well, the time has come where it finally arrives in the queue, so I’m about to find out all about it. Will it do things different? Will it be better or worse for it? Can the cops handle it or will The Foreigner.
This isn’t nearly as much of an action movie as the one that the trailers reminded me off - but that’s not entirely a bad thing either. For all that I love the beast of a man that is Arnold when he’s in movies, the acting chops on Jackie can do a far more appreciable job in the dramatic sense - something that’s pretty easy to pick up just from the wide diversity of movies he’s been in. It might take a minute to calibrate your expectations when the movie first starts - and by all means, there are still a few action scenes in here - towards the more thrilling who-done-it and political intrigue the movie has on display. Perhaps it might be odd coming off of that statement, but I don’t really care for politics, so thankfully even with that in mind the level on display here fully services the movie first and foremost, working as the cogs of a machine to put things in place more than to preach any large message down your throats - except perhaps that violence begets violence, but I still stand by my point that it isn’t so over-done that it drones out the rest of the film.
The way things play out seem slightly strange at first, until we learn more about the main character. It’s funny calling him the main character in a way, because the head Irish lead probably has just as much screen time by the time things get wrapped up. Perhaps it’s the bouncing back and forth that helps keep things interesting and more mysterious - at times you wonder if perhaps one or the other or both are the bad guys as things play out, all while knowing thanks to some scenes that neither are directly the bad guys as shown by camera. Still, that does give us the relatively straight forward revenge story of the main, and the power-struggle political thrills side of the other lead. There’s also a sort of sick irony with the bomb usage on display, but I won’t get too far into it since I like to keep things free of potential spoilers or give-aways, despite some movies making their paths blatantly obvious. I won’t say that this movie plays out totally unexpected, even if it has a turn here or there - but it still handles it pretty competently regardless.
The overall flow of the movie feels nice as well. It doesn’t drag too often, and it uses it’s handful of action scenes well to help punctuate things or get you some potentially needed adrenaline the bring you back from a few lengthy talking segments or the drone of political plays. The actors do a good job in their rolls, delivering some fine performances. I won’t say they are all top notch all the time, there’s a few that could be a bit nicer at times - missing perhaps a facial expression to sell the line, or coming off a little over done - but those are more the minority when it comes to this one. There was a brief moment of panic on my end as I thought the movie was going to continue to add more and more characters I was supposed to keep track of, but it reigned it in after a little while. That said, there is still quite a few characters on here, and I wouldn’t fault a person for perhaps not recognizing names or forgetting a face or two despite most looking and acting quite different from each other.
The costume department doesn’t have a whole lot to play with here. Another case of “they do a good job but it all looks so modern that it doesn’t stand out at all.” That said, the cosmetics department does a good job keeping up with injuries like burns, cuts, or other scars as it goes about it’s process. Although some of these are from various action scenes as they happen, specifically when it comes to the henchmen, a few are actually there from previous events to the movie, some hinted at through redacted documents or the single flashback moment. Other moments when it comes to the department of Effects usually relate to those bombs I mentioned earlier - explosions a plenty, including some rather damaged looking people. It doesn’t go to the blood and guts level of violence as a zombie movie or some of the films that really want to push the horror of violent actions, but it’s enough there for you to imagine it feeling absolutely horrible. A few moments of traps are also used, with a mixed bag of impressive results - not all are outright painfully violent like stepping on nails, but the incredible disappearing foe trick is still impressive to watch.
The audio balance is good, although I admit there was some whispered words in the first part that caused me to turn up the volume (and leave it there, I really apparently just had it quite more quiet than I had thought initially). As mentioned, the actors do a good job, and that includes the delivery of lines and the enjoyment on my end of all the accents being thrown around on here - particularly Irish. That said, I could see where people who have a hard time with accents, even if they are still delivering english words, might not be able to get as much enjoyment out of it - which is sad, because it always amuses me. Music pops up here and there as well - usually being nice and background, but occasionally being given the chance to come more towards the front as the actual on-screen events slow or provide room for moments with no dialogue. There’s a bit of synth in there, which works relatively well for the rather morose atmosphere when it’s usually playing, although also can be a nice addition to the action scenes. As with most movies, it unfortunately isn’t following me around afterwards - but not everything can be such an earworm that every time someone says the word awesome it pops back into your brain.
Now, surely the idea of terrorist bombings might not sit great with some folks, and it’s a part of the movie. Both sides are doing it - although admittedly the contrast in body counts only serves to hammer a not-so-hidden message about violence. There is a level of action hero going on here - the main character seems to come out on top for a lot of things, at time seeming improbable at least. That given, it doesn’t really hurt the immersion of the film in any large way, and he does seem to keep a portion of damage on him to make it feel like some form of continuity is maintained. The Irish side has far more drama to it, which makes it the more complex end of things and that might put some off - or in fact be more of a hook than the otherwise basic form of plot on the other side. Webs of people interacting with people, some in negative and some in positive ways - and all of it being interrupted in a sense by this foreign body who exists purely to get the names of the people he needs to get revenge on.
It’s a good one. I would imagine that this might thrill a wider crowd than the Arnold movie that I originally expected going in. The movie contains some good shots, and a small number of moments that seem slightly out of focus or off standing off in the shadows. The actors do a great job, with perhaps a few characters where less is better. It provides some decent action and some emotional grounds, while also having logical railroad tracks connecting the points. When it comes to the most recent Chan flicks I’ve watched, I’d think most would probably catch this once and enjoy it, but perhaps it wouldn’t get a ton of repeat viewers. Still not bad for a rental either way, and it’s always a pleasure to see him strutting his stuff be it serious or comedic or any step inbetween.