Martin Campbell is no stranger to action films having brought us two Bond re-boots; Casino Royale with Daniel Craig from 2006 and Pierce Brosnan's first 007 outing, Goldeneye in 1995. The Foreigner is his latest action film and once again he is teamed up with Pierce Brosnan who is channelling his full Gerry Adams impersonation.
Jackie Chan plays an immigrant in London who owns his own restaurant. His wife and one of his two daughters were killed many years ago during the evacuation of Saigon. He lives with his only daughter who is tragically killed by an IRA bomb in London. He goes straight to the top of the IRA food-chain and intimidates Pierce Brosnan to give up the names of the bombers. What ensues is an explosive cat and mouse thriller between the two main protagonists played out against the back-drop of further IRA bomb violence in London from a rogue IRA cell.
This is where we need to say a word or two about the film's context and target audience. I watched this in a packed theatre in Silicon Valley, California. I dare say most if not all of the subtleties of the plot were lost on the audience. Indeed specific references to the Omagh bombing may not resonate with a global audience. The second problem is Jackie Chan. Audiences have come to know him as a loveable clown in most of his roles. There is nothing funny about his role in The Foreigner. It is played straight, yet the audience in my screening were laughing and giggling at what I believed were serious plot points and/or action sequences.
Campbell delivers a taught thriller full of Republican intrigue, back-stabbing and dare I say it "normal" Irish politics. The British government do not come out of this cleanly either. Their Machiavellian plotting and use of Brosnan's character is cold and devious.
Jackie Chan brings us a subdued performance, befitting the grief he is experiencing. Brosnan brings us a fully-fledged Garry Adams which may be lost on some not familiar with the conflict or the politics of Northern Ireland. There is a strong Irish support cast including Orla Brady.
Is it the best of Campbell's work, sadly no. It is not as tight or as tense as his earlier work, such as Casino Royale. It is, however a notch above some of the current offerings in the cinema. Pierce Brosnan's channeling of Gerry Adams is almost worth the price of admission alone.