A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Foreigner is an action thriller starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan. It's very violent, with lots of bombs and explosions, plus dead bodies and gory, wounded body parts. There's also fighting, shooting, stabbing, choking, and so on, as well as a bloody wound being cauterized with a hot knife. Women are briefly shown in jeopardy and being beaten. Two characters are having extramarital affairs, and sex is implied in several scenes. There's kissing, heavy breathing, and some sex talk. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k" and various other words. Characters frequently drink scotch and whisky, mainly sipping and mainly in social situations, although some swig from the bottle.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In THE FOREIGNER, Quan Ngoc Minh (Jackie Chan) drives his daughter through London to buy a dress for a school dance. Suddenly, a bomb goes off, killing her. Devastated, Quan starts pestering the Deputy Cabinet Minister, Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), for the bombers' identities. Hennessy, a former member of the IRA, explains that a new faction has set off the bomb; he has no idea who they are. But Quan persists, using his own special training and knowledge of bombs to follow Hennessy and find the names. Meanwhile, Hennessy figures out that the bombers had a connection inside the cabinet and comes up with a trap to catch them. As they close in, it's Quan who gets there first.
Is it any good?
This thriller casts Chan in a bracing, dynamic role but then wastes that potential as the story sidelines him, focusing instead on other characters in rooms explaining the plot to each other. The Foreigner could have been another Die Hard or The Fugitive, with Chan at its center as the guy who gets things done. But the way it plays now, it feels more like he's been reluctantly tacked on and could easily have been removed. This is not to disparage Brosnan, who gets a great deal more to do, and is extremely appealing, as always.
Rather, the blame rests on the filmmakers, who don't seem to trust that Chan can carry a movie in a visual, nonverbal way. Moreover, the heavy dialogue that does drive the movie can be numbingly expository and repetitive. Director Martin Campbell stages his scenes in a static way, with characters mainly sitting in rooms or barking into their cell phones. It's too bad; there's a good story here, and both Chan and Brosnan are very good when the movie allows them to be. The Foreigner could have been a great entertainment, rather than a forgettable one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Foreigner's use of violence. How intense is it? Is it shocking, thrilling, or both? Does it seem like too much, or does it support the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Why do you think so many stories revolve around revenge?
How does Jackie Chan's role here compare to the characters he's played in other movies? Is he a role model? Why or why not? Is there any stereotyping of his character?
- In theaters: October 13, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: January 9, 2018
- Cast: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Murphy
- Director: Martin Campbell
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, language and some sexual material
- Last updated: November 12, 2019
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