"If you, like me, ever wonder what happened to Steven Seagal, you need to run right out and pick up "The Foreigner." In the late 1980s and early 1990's, it looked as though Seagal would join the ranks of Hollywood's top action stars. You would hear his name in the same sentence with Arnie and Stallone, no small feat indeed. And to a large degree, Seagal's films deserved the comparison. "Under Siege" was a winner, as were "Hard to Kill" and "Above the Law." The actor's greatest appeal isn't hard to fathom; Seagal embraced a brutal form of martial arts that, at least onscreen, allowed him to slap down thugs, break bones, and wreak massive havoc without batting an eye. Literally, Seagal would stand in place and put down one goon after the other with an ease that looked not only natural but also realistic. I still enjoy watching that pool room scene where Seagal's character used pool cues, billiard balls, and whatever else he could lay his hands on to put out the trash. Alas, how the mighty have fallen. The early 1990s may as well be ancient history as far as Steven Seagal is concerned. Although he's still capable of making a few moderately entertaining films, far too often we're seeing movies like "The Foreigner" and "Ticker."
Steven Seagal is Jonathan Cold, aka "The Foreigner," which we learn toward the end of the film is a highly trained government operative who works overseas under deep cover. During the film we discover he's now working for some sleazy Polish goon who wants him to carry a package to a client somewhere in Europe as his final assignment. First, he has to pick up the package from a couple of Russians out in the countryside with his boss's other hired hand, the nefarious Dunois (Max Ryan). Predictably, the two engage in macho banter on the car ride out to the cottage, which allows us to learn that Dunois is a rather shady character, before the two narrowly survive a huge gun battle and fire at the house. Cold isn't happy about dealing with such dire circumstances, but he's a professional and won't give up on fulfilling his mission. Perhaps he should have since that would have saved the audience from enduring the rest of this amateurish piece of dreck. Anyway, Seagal heads off to do what he does best, unaware that his old boss from the CIA, Jared Olyphant (Gary Raymond), knows all about the box and wants what is in it. At least I think Olyphant is Cold's former employer; the movie's so convoluted that it's hard to keep track of the various characters.
Before you can hit stop on your remote, all sorts of unpleasant people are gunning for our hero. Cold discovers that the package contains references to an air disaster in the 1980s, and also learns that wealthy industrialist Jerome Van Aken (Harry Van Gorkum) has something to do with the whole thing. While Cold scopes out the Van Aken estate, Dunois doggedly tracks him with the sort of persistence I wish I had as I tried to get through this movie. There's also a black assassin named Mims, hired by Jared Olyphant, gunning for the box. Cold eventually figures out, with a little help from Jerome's wife Meredith (Anne-Louise Plowman), that there's a huge conspiracy linking the information in the box with a corporate plot to create...well, I won't spoil it for you, but I ought to if it will prevent people from watching the film. Before we learn the shocking revelations that blow the evildoers' plans wide open, the movie treats us to several poorly edited action sequences that find Seagal's character infiltrating the Van Aken estate in order to blow away several beefy Slavic guards. He does it again later with Dunois, entering the compound by the SAME route he went in before. You would think the crack security team in charge of a billionaire's private residence would figure out a way to shore up the cracks, but you would be wrong.
Absolutely nothing works in "The Foreigner" beyond a few exceptionally bloody squibs. Director Michael Oblowitz, who should now personify that age-old mantra "you'll never work in this town again," simply doesn't know how to make a coherent movie. In the place of intriguing, deeply developed characters and original action scenes, he falls into the deadly trap of blaring techno music, cool dialogue that is neither cool nor makes sense, and continuity holes you could sail a battleship through. Even worse, the film relies way to heavily on speeding up or slowing down the speed of the film. I can understand using slow motion to show a body cartwheeling from a shotgun blast, but why do we need to watch Seagal's character sit down in a chair in slo-mo? It's one of those examples of a movie elevating style over substance. Problem is we've seen so many movies overuse these techniques that we recognize when it's poorly used. By far the most ridiculous aspect of the movie has to be how many times Dunois bites the bullet only to bounce back up for another round. I could go on and on.
Did I hear you ask about extras? A bunch of trailers for other action films, including "XXX," "I Spy," "Half Past Dead," "The Foreigner," and "The One." They probably shouldn't have included some of these trailers on the disc, though. I kept thinking how much I would rather watch a few of these other films than this one, even the other Seagal low budget actioners. Actually, I also recently watched two other Steven Seagal films, "Exit Wounds" and "Belly of the Beast," and both were much better than "The Foreigner" Perhaps this movie is an anomaly. I certainly hope so for Seagal's sake as even diehard fans will want to skip this clunker.
Lord Steven AKA God
Arthur Kicker | Your Mom's House | 11/06/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"'The Foreigner', along with 'Ticker', is just about the most hated Seagal flick by both the casual movie fan and the most devoted, dieheard Seagalogists. So, I went back and pulled it from my Seagal DVD collection and gave it a repeat viewing. I have come to decide that 'The Foreigner', while no where near the Lordly goodness of 'Belly Of The Beast' or 'Out For Justice', is much better than some of, in my opinion, Seagal's worst: 'Out Of Reach', 'Ticker', and 'Today You Die'.
The plot goes a little something like this: Lord Steven plays ex-CIA agent Johnathan Cold(by far the worst character name Seagal has ever had)who i guess is supposed to be in the same line of work as Jason Statham's character in 'The Transporter'. So the Lord is hired to deliver a package to some rich business tycoon, but of course is turned on by the people who hired him, the rich business tycoon's wife tries to steal the package, and there's other bad dudes out to get the package as well. Its all a little vague but if you don't concentrate too hard, you can ignore all the gaps in plot, and sorta kinda understand whats going on.
Anyways, the Lord is pretty sick looking in this film: he's tubby, his hair is nappy, and he has his arms crossed in front of his gut for approximately 80% of the film. There are a couple decent fight scenes, but the majority of them is obviously done by a stuntman who looks nothing like nor weighs nowhere near as much as Seagal. The only time the Lord appears during fight scenes is in close-up shots where it appears to be playing paddycake. Oh, and about a third of Seagal's dialogue is dubbed by someone who sounds nothing like him. But on the flipside, the cinematography is nice, the camera work is very well done, some very brutal shootings, and the acting is pretty good for the most part(especially by the black British guy who tortures Seagal near the beginning of the film; that guy is very good).
Overall, 'The Foreigner' is not a good film but its definitely not the Lord's worst. So I declare: it is not as deserving of the venom that films like 'Ticker' and 'Out Of Reach' deserve. Give it a second viewing and I don't think you'll hate it as much as you think you do. You won't love it, but you might realize, like I did, that it does have a few good points.
Oh, and as a little sidenote: Seagal's next flick, entitled 'Black Dawn', is a sequel to 'The Foreigner'. Go figure...he could have made a sequel to 'Under Seige' or 'Belly Of The Beast' or even brought back Gino Felino for 'Out For Justice 2' but he decides to bring back Johnathan Cold? Weird."
The Three Seagals
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 03/23/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Once upon a time there was a Steven Seagal who was interesting to watch, even if he could not act. He frowned, he regularly broke the law that he was often sworn to uphold by stomping on the rights of street trash, and he used a brute force variation to Aikido that imbued him with bone-breaking power. That was the Seagal of his first films:ABOVE THE LAW, HARD TO KILL, and MARKED FOR DEATH. The audience did not particularly care that his acting abilities even then were non-existent. They responded to his take-no-prisoner attitude toward law enforcement. This Seagal liked to wear long leather coats, but he took them off often enough to show that he had a long and lean look that emphasized his rapid open handed punches into a slimeball's face. Beginning with UNDER SEIGE, ON DEADLY GROUND, and culminating with FIRE DOWN BELOW, a newer, paunchier Seagal emerged. This Seagal involved himself with social and environmental issues. He still managed to beat up hoods, but one could see that he was shifting gears from action hero to action hero with a conscience. Unfortunately, to have pulled this off would have required more acting skill than to ossify on command an already ossified countenance. But as I saw this second Seagal try to remake his image, I could still get some diminished pleasure in watching him do what he did best, even if it became increasingly clear that an ever expanding girth required camera trickery to simulate what the earlier Seagal used to effortlessly do. Now Seagal is truly no more than the fifty plus overweight talent challenged actor that perceptive critics labeled him as even back in 1988. In THE FOREIGNER, he is Jonathan Cold, a government agent of some sort, who is supposed to deliver a mystery package of some sort, to ill-defined criminal types of some sort. It is no exaggeration to say that this film makes no sense, whether one examimes it on the physical, metaphysical, or spiritual level. Seagal kills his partner no less than three times, with no explanation provided for these resurrections. At no time was I able to figure out even the glimmering of a logical plot. What I did see were frequent shootings, explosions, and body counts, all of which, I suppose, is sufficient for the film's executive producer to justify as the movie's basis for existence. Seagal, by the way, was the executive producer. For the true fans of Steven Seagal, the brute who entertained thrill-seeking audiences is no longer to be found. That Seagal is just as much a foreigner to today's audience as Jonathan Cold would have been fifteen years ago."
Martin Asiner | 01/06/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Seagal has a dozen films that I enjoy and some of them were made in recent years. He can still deliver and has a pretty good record when you consider that the duds are only four movies in 16. Sad to say, this one is a dud. Skip this and Out For A Kill, The Patriot, and Ticker. The rest of the films he's been involved in I enjoy and think it's impressive he's made that many fun films."
TheHighlander | Richfield, PA United States | 02/08/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"It is a shame to see what Steven Seagal has been reduced to. His claim to action fame was his martial arts and there is hardly any in this movie. Instead there is senseless shooting. Unbelievable gun fight scenes. Like the one where he walks through and army of body guards on an estate and kills them all. Or the one where he kills a man shooting at him with a machine gun with one shot while not even looking. I had not heard of this movie when it was a theatrical release and now I see why. It must not have hung around long. The movie made vain attempts at intrigue and deception but only succeeded in confusion. It was a dissapointment and you would do well to chose another movie. Unless of course you are a die hard fan of his that thinks he can not make a bad movie, ever. This one is headed ..."