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film review

Jackie Chan as Quan Ngoc Minh in The Foreigner.

There are midlife crises and then there are midlife calamities. In The Foreigner – a lame retitling of The Chinaman, the politically incorrect name of the novel upon which this action-thriller is based – Jackie Chan plays a grieving, vengeful father who violently inserts himself into an IRA-linked bombing that mistakenly took his daughter's life. Specifically, he is Quan Ngoc Minh, an unassuming immigrant and London-based restaurant owner with serious bone-snapping skills and a talent for guerrilla insurgency that indicate a heavy past. Seeking the names of "New IRA" terrorists, his sights are on Liam Hennessy, an ex-IRA leader and current Northern Ireland politician played by Pierce Brosnan (here reunited with Bond-movie director Martin Campbell). The intrigue is high and the action is furious, but a sort of meta subplot is also at work: Sextagenerian action-film hero Chan against onetime 007er Brosnan. The powers of glory days are summoned. May-December affairs are happening willy-nilly. The wife of Brosnan's character hisses at him, "I remember a day when you would have handled this properly." What can Brosnan do but stroke his salt-and-pepper beard and wistfully agree.

Harrison Ford, who returns to the Blade Runner franchise, talks about why the film is unique for the audience as well as the actors.