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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Foreigner (Blu-ray)
The Foreigner (Blu-ray)
Universal // R // January 9, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted January 5, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

I can't say that I've seen the films that show an aging ‘80s action film icon in more dramatic work in the ‘10s, but what little I know about them seems generally positive with Arnold and Sly leading the way in this regard (as they did lo so many years ago). The Foreigner shows us not one but (kinda) two in one place and guess what? The results are pretty good here as well.

David Marconi (Live Free or Die Hard) adapted the Stephen Leather novel "The Chinaman" into a script that Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) directed. An IRA bombing in London has killed a dozen people, including the daughter of Quan (Jackie Chan, Rush Hour). Quan is stricken with grief and wants to know the names of those involved with the bombing, and goes so far as to confront Liam Hennessey (Pierce Brosnan, The World is Not Enough), a former IRA leader who now serves as deputy First Minister for Northern Ireland. Dismissed at first, it's later learned that Quan was a former Special Forces soldier and has the skills and wherewithal to exact revenge, and damned if he doesn't try to do so.

I think that to a degree Chan's dramatic ability has been underrated over the course of his career, and given the background for his character which is established early on he conveys it very well. His support system is small as is and his daughter played an important part in it, so he comes off as a man shattered and as that subsides, seething. Chan's depth also allows his character to restrain himself until the time comes otherwise, and it proves to be a very good turn. Of course when he does need to kick ass he does, but it's also in a way that's multifaceted to the character and his backstory. The story takes great lengths to make the characters as believable as they can be and Chan puts in the work.

Complementing Chan's performance is Brosnan's, which enjoys to his character's past but also his work in balancing the desires of his homeland with diplomacy is almost as impressive in his performance. He also gets to do the stuff from his mid-‘90s James Bond ethos to a degree too, and having his GoldenEye collaborator in Campbell on board for it helps. And as Liam learns more about the truth and feels betrayed by the present, Brosnan's character oddly shares some of the same feelings as Chan's does, and they both do well with them. It's almost as if the world knows that Chan and Brosnan can do action stuff, and the action complements the story and characters. A novel idea!

With a tinge of morbidity, it's nice to see the old action stars discover this newfound and perhaps little used tool in their dramatic arsenal. They're in the September/October of their lives, and they have a grasp of being closer to the end than the beginning like Holden in Network. And they're just there apparently pumping out these understated and impressive performances. And like they did decades past, seemingly releasing a new one every year, hopefully this behavior repeats itself.

The Blu-ray Disc:
The Video:

The Foreigner comes to Blu-ray in an AVC-encoded 2.40:1 widescreen presenation and it's very good. Lots of image detail in the faces/torsos of Chan and Brosnan, and in other clothing textures. Background detail is ample and multidimensional, the color palette, while being a little darker, presents good contrast in blacks and greys when it needs to, and the image is devoid of haloing or postprocessing concerns. It's a nice disc to look at.

The Sound:

DTS-HD 7.1 and it does work early and often over the course of the near two-hour film, starting with the explosion and moving on to gunfire and hand to hand fights with loads of low-end fidelity and balance. Quieter moments of dialogue are also well-balanced and you don't have to adjust the volume much, and the directional effects and channel panning moments in the film are abundant and effective. Overall it's a darned good sound experience.

Extras:

There's a making of on the film that‘s fairly brief (2:17) and a couple of trailers, and the meat of the extras are interviews with Chan, Brosnan and Campbell (28:00). While they cover the requisite moments that EPKs tend to cover, they also include some nice thoughts about their characters and one another, that Brosnan regrets not being able to have dinner with Chan before the latter went to another project, and Chan's receipt of a painting when his scenes wrapped. It appeared to be a kind set and it's evident in these soft-spoken interviews.

Final Thoughts:

I guess a lot of the praise surrounding The Foreigner is for the performances of Chan and Brosnan, and for good reason since they're very good. A lesser talked about surprise of the film is how well-rounded it is; it very well could have relied on the acrobatics of Chan or the guile or good looks of Brosnan and been "just another film" in both their libraries. But it wants to tell a story and the actors respect it and contribute what they can to it without relying on their established talents. For fans of either it's a good change of pace but it's a decent enough movie on its own that everyone should take a peek or two.

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