They finally did it! The Foreigner is exactly what I’ve been recently asking for – a crisp and clean action programmer with robust production values that has been designed solely to entertain. Honestly – THAT’S the sort of movie I want to see a few times a year – the lean, mean, and totally efficient action thriller that’s classically shot and cut and economically written with a sense of forward momentum that never slacks. Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, No Escape, Goldeneye) and written by David Marconi (Enemy of the State), the film has a massive whiff of the 90’s about it, and I mean that in a great way. It was super surprising to see that the narrative turned out to be a two-hander with Jackie Chan receding into the background for a bit – he was surprisingly affecting with the emotional content, and Pierce Brosnan gets a more fleshed out role as the potential baddie, with various shadings added in by the filmmakers to keep things morally murky and purposefully knotty. There’s also a bunch of expertly-handled explosions, that were done – wait for it – for REAL!
I loved how this flick is equal parts Rambo: First Blood and then a riff on contemporary terrorist-themed action beats, with Cliff Martinez’s modern and electronic score rubbing up against the formal classicism that has come to define Campbell’s best work as a filmmaker. The set up is simple: Chan’s daughter is killed in a terrorist bombing, and he won’t stop until he figures out who is responsible. Brosnan plays a government official who Chan figures must know more than he’s letting on. Cinematographer David Tattersall did a stylish but no-nonsense job behind the camera and threw in some really cool camera angles that you don’t normally see. There’s also zero shred of noticeable CGI anywhere to be found. This was a huge surprise, I’ll get the Blu-ray, and I’ll watch it on HBO 1,000 times over the upcoming years. I need entertaining time wasters like these every once in a while. STX Studios helped to finance the $35 million independent production (it looks twice as expensive), which has grossed more than $150 million worldwide.
Review by Nick Clement