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Jackie Chan out for rogue IRA terrorist in ‘The Foreigner’

October 13th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

Jackie Chan takes a sharp turn from his typically genial screen personality to become the vengeful father of a London terrorist victim in “The Foreigner.”

Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan star in a scene from the movie “The Foreigner.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III,adults. (CNS photo/STXfilms)

In this efficiently suspenseful adaptation of Stephen Leather’s pulp thriller “The Chinaman,” director Martin Campbell and screenwriter David Marconi have produced an unembroidered drama about resurgent Irish Republican Army violence and bureaucratic treachery.

There are explosions aplenty as well as displays of military survival skills and quite a few of Chan’s well-timed kicks and punches. None of the protagonist’s bombs are intended to damage anything but property, however.

He’s grieving dad Ngoc Minh Quan, and he’s trying to get the attention of government officials any way he can. As a former American-trained guerrilla during the Vietnam War, moreover, he’s as adept at explosives and trap-setting as any urban terrorist.

Vigilantism is always a troubling theme for believing moviegoers. So, despite his precautions, he also avoids using guns, it’s disturbing that Quan is meant to be cheered in the manner of a cowboy hero as he searches for justice.

Although the story has a modern setting, the source novel, written in 1992, was published five years before the IRA’s cease-fire with the British forces in Northern Ireland. So, while Irish terrorism seems anachronistic here, the idea is that mass killings are everywhere and that a parent’s quest is universal.

On the strength of his personality and the intelligence of the script, Chan also escapes any ugly stereotypes of a wily, inscrutable Asian.

After his daughter Fan (Katie Leung) is murdered in a bombing that kills 19, Quan, who also lost his wife and two other daughters to Thai pirates while escaping China years before, expects to see Fan’s killers arrested through the usual channels. But Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a deputy prime minister with substantial political ambitions, is slow to respond and uncooperative once he does.

Quan then attempts to bribe a police inspector, Richard Bromley (Ray Fearon). But when that effort fails, he focuses all his energy on Hennessy, whose old ties to the IRA are as complicated as his relationships with his wife and mistress.

The result is a multilayered story that, although telegraphing many plot points too soon, avoids cynicism and makes for a taut journey, albeit one with a high body count.

The film contains a vigilantism theme, gun and physical violence, fleeting gore, implied sexual activity, a few profanities and frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. Motion Picture Association of America rating is R, restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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Pope Francis asks parishes and families to be ‘centers of love’


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A church that lives according to the Gospel must always have its doors open and be a welcoming community, not “an exclusive, closed sect,” Pope Francis said.

“Churches, parishes, institutions with closed doors must not call themselves a church; they must call themselves museums,” he said to applause during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 9.

Pope Francis talks with students from Colegio Don Bosco in Argentina during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis talks with students from Colegio Don Bosco in Argentina during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

As part of a series of talks about the family, the pope focused on the close bond that should exist between the family and the Christian community.

The son of God chose to be born and immersed in the everyday life and routine of a simple family in a poor village, the pope said.

In fact, the family is where the “irreplaceable, indelible” start of one’s life story begins, which is “why the family is so important.”

When Jesus began his public ministry, he formed around him a community with a shared vocation, “that is, a con-vocation of people. This is the meaning of the word, ‘church,’” the pope said.

The group Jesus gathers around him has the features of “a hospitable family, not an exclusive, closed sect,” he said.

“We find Peter and John, but also the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the persecuted, the sinner, the tax collector, the Pharisees and the multitudes. And Jesus never stops welcoming and speaking with everyone, even with those who no longer expect to encounter God in their life.”

Jesus’ example is a valuable lesson for the church today, the pope said, as is recognizing that Jesus chose his disciples to take care of these people, “this family of God’s guests.”

Pope Francis said it was “indispensable and urgent” for the bond between the family and the Christian community to be renewed and strengthened.

“The family and the parish are the two places in which this communion of love, whose ultimate source is God himself, is realized.”

Families and parishes must share this bond and be “centers of love” that are an alternative to the prevailing “centers of ideological, financial and political power” in the world, he said. “Our hope is in these centers of love, evangelizing centers, abundant in human warmth, based on solidarity and participation and also forgiveness between us.”

A generous spirit is required to find the courage and intelligence to reach out to families, the pope said, because sometimes they “pull away, saying they do not measure up” to expectations or are too “messed up” with too many problems or not enough strength to pull through.

“But nobody is worthy, nobody measures up, nobody has the strength. Without the grace of God, we can’t do anything,” he said. Only when people put themselves in God’s hands can miracles happen, even just “every day miracles when the Lord is there in that family.”

The pope asked Christian communities and parishes to do their part, avoid acting too much like impersonal functionaries or managers and engage more in face-to-face dialogue to build mutual understanding and respect.

The Christian community, he said, “is the home of those who believe in Jesus Christ as the source of the unity of the entire human family.”

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