Hollywood@Home: The Foreigner

Jackie Chan is not looking so good in “The Foreigner.”

Wildly outdated and unreasonably dense, “The Foreigner” is not my idea of a good time. Jackie Chan stars in this British-Chinese thriller based on a 1992 novel, but set in present-day London and Northern Ireland. The film attempts to revive the decades-old idea of the Irish Republican Army attacking London and gives us the 63-year-old Chan as an immigrant businessman whose daughter is killed in one of the attacks. Pierce Brosnan plays A British minister from Northern Ireland who becomes the primary target of the father’s wrath.

Wow, I can think of so many reasons this film shouldn’t have been made. But, I suppose the producers were just out to score some easy bucks since Chan is still a good draw at the international box office. And, while this is not a stinker, it certainly is embarrassingly out of touch. Let me explain why.

Northern Ireland will always be an issue with the Irish. There’s no doubt. But, deadly attacks in contemporary London, killing dozens of innocents? I sincerely doubt it. Dissatisfaction with the ongoing political solutions in place between the two peoples is highly unlikely to turn into such a deadly wave of violence, making the premise of the film almost laughable.

Next, there’s Chan. Age has taken a toll on his looks, more so than Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone and other aging action stars. Certainly he can play a distraught father, but his physicality in “The Foreigner” is less than convincing. It looks rather silly.

And, then, there’s the story. Ngoc Minh Quan leaves his London business to avenge his daughter’s death. First, he tries to bribe a British official into revealing the names of the bombers responsible. It’s information that hasn’t even come to light, making him appear doltish. Next, he goes after Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Liam Hennessy (Brosnan), who convincingly tells him the truth, that he doesn’t know specifically who set off the bomb in London. There’s nothing in Hennessy’s demeanor to show that he’s lying. And, in fact, he’s not lying. Amazingly, Quan sets off a bomb near Hennessy’s office. Uh, really? Quan’s toilet bomb is only one of a string of foolish actions that defy explanation.

Finally, the screenwriters didn’t appear to be in a rush to give us Quan’s given circumstances, his background. The film might have been more convincing if the story had been more up front about how Quan obtained his special skills. Instead, the filmmakers were content to let the audience believe that all Chinese restaurant owners in London know how to make bombs and other death-dealing devices.

Just a final bit of advice to the producers of “The Foreigner.” If you’re bringing a 25-year-old novel to the big screen, you might want to make it a period piece. Things can change in two-and-a-half decades. Updating to present-day is fine, but make sure the story fits our time period. Grade: C-

Pierce Brosnan and a subordinate who resembles Lord Bolton do battle with Jackie Chan in “The Foreigner.”