Entertainment Magazine

Review #3889: Jack Reacher (2012)

Posted on the 28 December 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Christopher McQuarrie, based on the book One Shot by Lee Child
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

The unfortunate byproduct of Tom Cruise being such a mega movie star is that he has to headline everything he does. He has to own whatever room he walks into. That’s what I kept seeing as I watched “Jack Reacher”, Cruise’s newest film to headline. The character of Jack Reacher has to own every room he walks into, simply because he knows that he’s better and smarter and stronger than everyone else.

Review #3889: Jack Reacher (2012)

It really does undermine any sense of tension in the film. Reacher is the hero, nothing and no one can hurt him, and so he will prevail in the end. Part of this is also a way for writer-director Christopher McQuarrie to answer fans’ complaints about miscasting the diminutive Cruise (who is probably no more than 5’7” tall) as the title character. The Jack Reacher in the novels the film is based on is a hulking 6’5”. The response is to make Cruise’s character hyper-competent in everything he does, from crime scene analysis to driving a muscle car to hunt down the true killers while being chased by the police. The film is entertaining in small doses, but is a a disappointment when you look at the overall picture.

The film opens with an unsettling scenario in light of the gun violence this country has experienced in the last six months: a military sniper picks off five seemingly-innocent people in a public place and frames another military sniper for the crime. The accused sniper asks for the police to find Jack Reacher before he is given a death sentence for the murders. Reacher (Cruise) has a history with this particular sniper when he was in the military.

Reacher himself is set apart from the more normal investigators. He has no home, no passports, no possessions to his name, and he buys clothes from Goodwill. He is a “ghost” who lives a nomadic, almost off-the-grid existence. Once he digs into the case with Assistant DA Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), he discovers a conspiracy that makes the sniper shooting more than a random action by a crazed lone nut.

Beyond that, there’s not much to say. The film is an elongated military procedural that proves less and less entertaining as it drags on. The film is a bloated 135 minutes, and in between the elegantly-filmed action sequences and simple explanation for the sniper’s motives, characters spend a lot of time talking through the various details of the conspiracy. The talk eventually reduces the shooting at the beginning of the film to random murders of four innocent people surrounding a very convenient plot device. Once the villains get wind of Jack Reacher’s involvement in the case, one wonders why they didn’t take enough steps to remove him from the equation.

It’s like your standard James Bond plot (minus the most recent entry), where the supervillain doesn’t just simply kill Bond when he has the chance. They send a wide variety of lackeys to try and do the job, continuing to do so even when the previous guys failed to finish the job. The physical fights Reacher get into are competently staged and sometimes have a humorous bent to them. Such as one fight where Reacher accurately predicts what’s going to happen before it actually does, even as he’s outnumbered five-to-one. Or one fight where he knocks one man unconscious by bashing him with another man’s head. A car chase in the second half of the film gets the adrenaline pumping, only because there are more than two parties involved. The final showdown in the quarry makes use of some inventive actions by both Reacher and the gun range owner he befriends (Robert Duvall).

In the end, though, it’s clear who has to be the best guy in the room. He has to be the center of attention. Heck, his name is the movie! So Reacher has to win in the end. There’s no other way for the film to go. During the course of the film, Reacher changes his outlook towards the framed sniper. Instead of pegging him as guilty immediately, he starts to realize the conspiracy at work.

But it never really seems like he cared about the outcome either way. He has no allegiances and attachments to anyone. He only seems really upset that a police detective could have duped him so easily and that he didn’t have the wit to see it beforehand. Ultimately, that matters little in the resolution of the plot. If he doesn’t really care about absolving the patsy of a capital crime, then where is the audience supposed to go for investment in this movie? If you can give a good answer to that question, then it’s likely you will enjoy this film. If not, well, then the film is one long, filled-with-holes police procedural gussied up to play to the whims of an inconsistent movie star. It’s really not the best position to view a film like this.

Score: 6/10

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