I just watched the Foreigner, Jackie Chan’s latest Western film. It was decent, though significantly less action oriented than his previous owrk. No surprise there, he is getting old. It did have some serious acting by all involved and was quite decent in that regard.
However, Jackie Chan was a filler protagonist. After watching the entire movie, I was left with the realisation that nearly nothing that Jackie Chan’s character did actually had any effect on the plot / the bad guys. If we removed him from the entire plot, nearly everything would have played out very similar to what happened. The bad guys would have been caught and punished (in one form or another).
He was, as mentioned, a filler protagonist. Now, filler scenes / episodes are pretty common especially int erms of TV series / any on-going medium. You see it a lot in Anime TV series like Naruto or Cowboy Bebop or even in the Adventurer’s Heart. In many cases, these scenes are either to flesh out characters or just to change the tone / mood. I am, not surprisingly, not opposed to filler episodes, especially when they are done in moderation.
However, a filler protagonist is not moderation in my view. The protagonist needs to have an effect, if not on the main ‘plot’, on the small portion of the plot the character is involved in. Daniel in the Healer’s Gift might not change the course of the battle with the Orcs, but he does effect the small portion of the fight he is involved in. Jackie Chan’s character, while getting the revenge he sought, ends up not affecting the plot at all.
Contrast this to Taken which is another revenge story where Liam Neeson’s character exacts his revenge and gets his daughter back. At the end of the day, the difference is scope – the Foreigner attempts to showcase Pierce Brosnan and other sides of the story, attempting to give us a broader scope of the story. I believe if they had focused instead much more on Jackie Chan and his story, we would have had a better overall film rather than a weird story that just didn’t satisfy in the end.