Tempo grade: B+
The framework is all too familiar. A terrorist bomb attack kills several innocent people in the midst of a large urban city, London in this case.
Among the victims is the young daughter of a Chinese man, who also happens to be a British citizen. Stricken with grief, the man understandably demands answers. He wants to know who was behind the bombing, but is thwarted by cops and a government bureaucracy that cannot help him because of the anonymous nature of the act.
But, in “The Foreigner,” Jackie Chan is not Arnold Schwarzenegger or Liam Neeson and the bad guys aren’t necessarily the ones stereotypically associated with current waves of terrorism.
The strength of veteran action director Martin Campbell’s movie is his attention to detail and willingness to use Chan as not just an action star but an actor with natural instincts and a quiet, soft-spoken maturity that translates well to his character. His Quan Ngoc Minh seems at first like any overprotective father who had a lovely daughter late in life. But, he is doting for reasons we will learn about later on.
Still stricken after the blast, he soon visits a British official who can maybe help him, a man named Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan). But, Liam says he cannot help him and has no idea who the bombers might be. Quan is persistent, probably because, we suspect, he believes Liam knows more than he’s willing to reveal. See, the bombers may be linked to the Irish Republican Army, or a radical arm that aims to stir up the “old troubles.” And Liam used to be among their ranks when he was younger. Today, he vows to bring the two sides together.
Campbell ably constructs a plot that delves into the painful and dangerous histories of both men. For Quan, there is a past that involves a “special set of skills,” honed from years in covert military actions going all the way back to Vietnam. For Liam, it means dredging up alliances that may or not be things he wants anyone to make public for fear of what it might do to his political standing.
It’s a cat-and-mouse game that ensues when Quan decides to use the only language Liam understands when he refuses to give him the answers to questions only he happens to know.
The film could easily have fallen into a self-conscious political statement, but Campbell knows what the audience really wants. It wants to see Jackie Chan do his thing. And, he does, but he’s an old man now and has become what old men everywhere want today: To be able to move like a cat and kick butt like the old days. For Campbell to pull this off with a certain artful skill is a testament to his own particular “set of skills.”
“The Foreigner” is rated R for violence, language and some sexual material.
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets, or additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
Also showing in Taos
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
MPAA rating: PG-13 for some language
Movies at the TCA
“Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” centers on “Deep Throat,” the pseudonym given to the notorious whistleblower for one of the greatest scandals of all time, Watergate. The true identity of the secret informant remained a mystery and source of much public curiosity and speculation for more than 30 years.
That is until, in 2005, special agent Mark Felt (played by Liam Neeson) shockingly revealed himself as the tipster. This unbelievable true story chronicles the personal and professional life of the brilliant and uncompromising Felt, who risked and ultimately sacrificed everything: his family, his career, his freedom, in the name of justice.
Written and directed by Peter Landesman, this film co-stars Diane Lane, Marton Csokas, Tony Goldwyn, Ike Barinholtz and Kate Walsh.
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 5), and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Nov. 6-8).
Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.
MPAA rating: R for violence, language and some sexuality
Mitchell Storyteller 7
George Clooney’s new movie, in which he directs from a script by Ethan and Joel Cohen, Grant Heslov and himself, is about Suburbicon, a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns — the perfect place to raise a family.
In the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices. This is Suburbicon.
This film co-stars Julianne Moore, Matt Damon and Oscar Isaac.
This film will be screened daily.
Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.