The Foreigner


Viewed – 02 January 2018  Netflix

I used to be, and probably still am a big fan of Jackie Chan, and have at one time or another seen a great deal of his back catalogue.  In subsequent years I’ll admit he’s gone off my radar even though I realise he still makes movies.  Yet this latest caught my eye as it had been granted a cinema release at one stage and good word of mouth.  Chan plays Quan, a local Chinese restaurant owner living in London who unfortunately witnesses a bombing outside a shop where his daughter goes, leading to her death.  Vowing to track down those responsible, he soon latches onto Liam Hennessey (Pierce Brosnan) who’s former links to the IRA may prove invaluable.

the_Foreigner

You could call it Chan’s version of all those copy-cat Liam Neeson thrillers we’ve seen of late and has echoes of Taken.  Chan may not be the most compelling of actors and his grasp of English is still hit and miss … but he’s a likeable presence and well, can still kick ass and defy gravity even in his sixties.  Pierce Brosnan however completely steals the show as a not so subtle take on former Sin Fein leader Gerry Adams, and his spot-on Northern Ireland accent brings a level of authenticity to proceedings.  Also it was interesting having the backdrop of the IRA troubles and director Martin Campbell (Golden Eye) delivers a realistic and thrilling movie with plenty of action and intrigue.

I’s a shame then that really, it hasn’t much going for it we haven’t seen dozens of times before.  It’s engaging and mostly well acted especially from Brosnan, but it’s sense of deja-vu mares what is otherwise a solid thriller, and one certainly more convincing and gritty that I’d normally expect from Chan.

Verdict:  3 /5

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A decade in movies – part one


Reading some other blogs and movie sites recently, got me thinking on the best movies to come out this past decade, now that 2010 looms on the horizon.  Compiling an actual top ten is something I’d like to do, but how does one go about reducing so many movies down to just ten?  There are of course certain contenders for that list that stand out for me, as follows:

 

Switchblade Romance (aka Haute Tension)

This French horror has its faults, but for me, it felt like the most purely unflinching example of the horror movie that had been made in a long time, with all the gloss and style stripped away, with no teen beauties or name director, just pure, unrelenting scares.  The use of Muse’s New Born is incredibly effective too.  The twist is mad as hell granted, but everything else about this reeks of class and assured implementation.  Made by real horror fans for real horror fans.

Casino Royale

In the early naughties, the Bond franchise was getting a bit of a joke.  Pierce Brosnan was out staying his welcome, we were getting invisible cars and ludicrous villains.  We needed a re-boot or kiss goodbye to the swarve secret agent for ever.  Then stepped in Daniel Craig to breathe new life into the role, with a hint of Jason Bourne but with more personality than Matt Damon, and impeccable direction from Martin Campbell – and Bond was back to his best again!

The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

J.R.R. Tolkien’s often adapted book was never attempted in such a fully realised way before Peter Jackson came on board.  The Newzealand director of bad taste schlock horror, became more than just the guy who discovered Kate Winslet, he was suddenly mentioned in the same sentences as Steven Spielberg, and when The Fellowship Of The Ring was first thrust onto the audience’s laps, a real talent was discovered.  These beautifully made movies have real depth and character, hold your attention with drama and emotion, and have some of the finest set-pieces in cinematic history.  It’s hard to pick a favourite as each movie has its own merits, and even if the hefty running times deter you, I beg you to give them a chance – because these are genuine masterpieces that if you call yourself a movie fan, you will, some day regret not seeing.

Pan’s Labyrinth

Blade 2 and Hellboy may have first introduced me to the talent that is Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, but as a true artist of the cinema, it’s this movie that shows us what he’s really all about.  Sort of a C.S. Lewis for our time, Del Toro’s masterful talent for timeless imagery and style mixed with assured direction and visual panache, marks him out as one of the best in the business.  The movie is a nod to Alice In Wonderland for an adult audience, both fantastical and disturbing, mixing other-worldly imagery with real life horrors of war.  No shock that Peter Jackson hand-picked him for The Hobbit adaptation.

Mullholland Drive

David Lynch remains the master of surrealism on film.  His Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks ventures remain the pinnacle of bizarre drama, mixed with nightmarish imagery.  This mystery following a young starlet as she hopes to hit the big time in Hollywood, deserves all the acclaim bestowed upon it, as its haunting, erotic, scary and crazy all at the same time – with a never better Naomi Watts in the central role.  Possibly Lynch’s masterpiece, but also a film you need to see more than once to truly appreciate its power.

Old Boy

Park Chan Wook’s famed ‘vengeance trilogy’ reached its pinnacle in this violent but heart-breaking story of one man’s unexplained 15 year imprisonment by an unknown kidnapper.  When he’s freed he has five days to discover the truth.  This stylish and deeply effective thriller has it all – a stunning central performance from Min-Sik Choi, masterful direction and a twist ending that truly delivers.  Made me an instant fan of the director, and its also a film that grows in my appreciation the more times I see it.

 

Check back soon for part two!