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Not What It Seems

Not What It Seems
By Siddhartha S. Bhadrakumar

It isn’t often that a film is both thought provoking as well as entertaining. That’s however what makes ‘The Foreigner’ a remarkable film, even if the central subject is in fact incidental to the film. Various aspects or themes are highlighted in this film such as terrorism, love, betrayal and manipulation.

While the film appears to focus on Jackie Chan who loses his daughter in a terror strike; this film is also about the disturbed relationship between communities in the U.K. Also most reviews, at least those in Indian media got it wrong when they say that the past of the central protagonist appears relevant in the context of the unfolding of this film when in fact it is incidental. Jackie Chan’s past is only relevant in unfolding a history of tragic loss. His special operations skills while impressive also lend a degree of improbability or surrealism to the unfolding of the film. Essentially he represents a haunted quest for justice within the framework of a dour thriller that doesn’t quite chime vis-à-vis its different elements.

Despite that we can’t but be amused by the action stunts of this aged man who still doubles up as something of an action hero even if his appearances are rather sporadic in this film. That’s also because this is arguably a Pierce Brosnan film rather than a Jackie Chan show which is why probably the latter would have done better than to waste his time on this when he has a more flourishing reputation as a Hong Kong movie star. We can therefore only imagine what prompted him playing a role in this Martin Campbell thriller which is one of those airport thrillers which doesn’t quite add up, even if some of the sequences are quite memorable.

It should also be mentioned here that the acting is also flawed by an automatic assumption of a certain uniform knowledge of Mandarin which in fact doesn’t exist. One can only come to such a belief by the non-translation of dialogues in the language in this film.

The dualistic nature of politicians who often double up as terrorists comes out beautifully in some superb acting by a much matured Pierce Brosnan as Liam Hennessey, whom I last saw in his famous avatar of 007, which was quite a while back. Of course one must admit it isn’t every day that one comes across such films or such acting themes in theatres in this part of the world which is what I suppose provides for an above average viewing experience when we consider this film.

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