The Foreigner (2017)

A lean, cold, very sleekly made political thriller with occasional, arresting forays into action. Jackie Chan charts a slowly escalating transformation from passivity and grief to malevolent effectiveness and violence brilliantly, keeping polite and calculated all the while but conveying a broken man persona with much more depth than how that character (irritatingly common in the genre) is usually portrayed. The pacing of the film gives rare these explosions of violence tremendous support, as the tension mounts up so slowly and with such tension they’re undeniably as catharctic as they are shocking.


Coldly coloured, cooly scored (by the great Cliff Martinez), with two very good performances at the top (Chan and Pierce Brosnan as dual leads), the film explores the relationship between the status quo and the violence that seems an inevitable component of it – if not in maintaining it, then it is existing for some time at all. This carries through both in Chan’s characters plot, and the Irish political thriller that is the backbone of the film (which carries through the film’s lean competence to its playing-against-genre government officials, treated with surprising dignity for the genre), who explore the ways characters and institutions duplicitously disregard the roles violence plays in their pasts and presents. I don’t think it’s a coincidence Chan’s character (and all his violence) could be extracted from the film and the plot would remain the exact same. His journey is the most powerful part of the film, but much of that is precisely because of his keener insight into that role of violence and the sometimes lack of it.

A very well-made movie, with a very good performance at the centre of it. Three and a half bottles of lemonade, and a matchstick.

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