Sound & Vision - - ENTERTAINMENT - Josef Krebs

The For­eigner, a su­pe­rior ac­tion-thriller from Martin Camp­bell, the direc­tor of two of the best Bond out­ings ever— Casino Royale and Gold­en­eye— not only de­liv­ers both ex­cite­ment and dra­matic com­plex­ity but of­fers a sur­pris­ingly mov­ing performance from its star, Jackie Chan. Pre­sented in a Blu-ray of im­pres­sive pic­ture and sound qual­ity, it makes for mem­o­rable home theater.

When a bomb goes off in Lon­don, ag­ing Chi­nese restau­ran­teur, Quan, loses his last sur­viv­ing fam­ily mem­ber, send­ing him on a quest to iden­tify and pun­ish those in­volved. Since a youth­ful IRA splin­ter group, “Au­then­tic IRA,” claims re­spon­si­bil­ity, he de­cides that North­ern Ire­land Deputy Min­is­ter Hen­nessy (Pierce Bros­nan, also dis­play­ing his act­ing chops), an EX-IRA mem­ber, will of­fer him the lead he seeks. Fac­ing re­sis­tance, in the form of ver­bal re­buf­fal and then hench­men, ex–spe­cial Forces fighter Quan uses in­creas­ingly ex­treme tac­tics to per­suade Hen­nessy to de­liver the names, bringing into play the con­sid­er­able de­struc­tive skills and tac­ti­cal knowl­edge he’d ac­quired in Viet­nam.

In the bright, crisp pic­ture, con­trast is spot on, with ev­ery­thing dis­tinct and sharply de­lin­eated. Col­ors are well de­fined, with a wide range of tones—greens and browns of the many coun­try­side scenes are nicely var­ie­gated—with rich pri­maries, deep blacks, and bright whites. Sk­in­tones are nat­u­ral through­out. Com­po­si­tions have depth and are de­tailed from front to back so that each tree in the wood stands out while in­di­vid­ual hairs in Bros­nan’s beard and lines around Chan’s eyes are all vis­i­ble. Com­bined with the fre­quent moody mod­eled light­ing, fig­ures and faces have sculp­tural vol­ume.

The thrilling elec­tron­ica score—the best I’ve heard in a long time— is ex­tremely well served here. Us­ing all

7.1 chan­nels to im­merse you, the mu­sic com­pletely comes for­ward into the room, giv­ing great depth of sound, puls­ing be­hind you in the sur­rounds and rears, at times seem­ingly in­side your head, and dis­pers­ing all around, well sep­a­rated into each chan­nel. Voices, held up front, are clear, full, and vi­brant. Ex­plo­sions—not just bass­ily boom­ing but hav­ing a higher-range snap that lends an au­then­tic qual­ity—start at the source on screen be­fore rush­ing for­ward to en­velop you.

Un­wor­thy ex­tras con­sist of two fea­turettes (amount­ing to only ten min­utes). This is a let­down of an oth­er­wise ex­cel­lent pre­sen­ta­tion of an in­volv­ing film.

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