Monday, December 31, 2012

Movie Review: Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie.
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie based on the book by Lee Child.
Starring: Tom Cruise (Reacher), Rosamund Pike (Helen), Richard Jenkins (Rodin), David Oyelowo (Emerson), Werner Herzog (The Zec), Jai Courtney (Charlie), Vladimir Sizov (Vlad), Joseph Sikora (Barr), Michael Raymond-James (Linsky), Alexia Fast (Sandy), Josh Helman (Jeb), Robert Duvall (Cash).

Jack Reacher, the character created by Lee Child who has starred in well over 10 novels now is a six-foot-five, 250 pound ex-Army cop who wanders around America getting himself involved in police investigations everyone he goes. Tom Cruise is not the first person you would think of to play the film version of this beloved character. Who would be? Maybe the new, kickass Liam Neeson? And yet, what Tom Cruise lacks in pure physical size, he makes up for in other ways. Like all of Cruise’s best characters, Reacher is driven to the point of obsession. You get in his way, and he’ll bring you down one way or another. Cruise plays fiercely determined as well as anyone – and that’s pretty much the best way to describe Reacher.

Had the filmmakers had a crystal ball, they probably would have picked another Reacher novel than One Shot to adapt for his first cinematic outing. As it stands, the movie opens with a lone gunman preparing and then opening fire into a crowd, killing five people with his sniper rifle and then taking off. It doesn’t take long for the cops to identify James Barr as the suspect, and the mountain of evidence against him seems too irrefutable. The problem though is that we know Barr didn’t do it, since we saw the real shooter (a change from the novel – and not a good one). Before Barr is beaten into a coma in jail, he asks the cops to track down Jack Reacher. But Reacher is a ghost, and unless he wants to be found, he won’t be. Luckily, he wants to be found. He has history with Barr, and wants to see justice done this time, even if it wasn’t in the past. No sooner does Reacher arrive on scene than a tug of war begins – between the cops and the defense lawyer (Rosamund Pike) to find out what Reacher knows. Also, it seems like someone wants to scare Reacher away – but Reacher is not easily scared.

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Jack Reacher is a solid thriller from beginning to end. We know from the beginning that things aren’t quite as they appear, but that Reacher will figure everything out. Cruise anchors the film with a fine, but unspectacular performance. Much better is the assortment of supporting characters that surround him – Robert Duvall as an old jarhead, Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo as the DA and the lead cop respectively, who both may not be trustworthy. And best of all is that mad German genius Werner Herzog as the mysteriously named The Zec. Herzog adds a level of insanity to any movie he’s involved in, and Jack Reacher is no different.

Like the Reacher novels, the movie is a fine, disposable entertainment – involving while you’re in the story, almost instantly forgettable once it’s over. I enjoyed the film. It held my attention, had some performances and a twisty story that will keep you guessing (unless you read the book). This is probably as good as a Jack Reacher movie could be.

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