Jack Reacher Review
Tom Cruise reaches out to show the audience how amazingly awesome he is.
Before I get into this review, I have to tell you why I am doing this particular movie. It came out as I was incredibly busy with work and I was prepared to let it slip through the cracks like so many other movies that just don’t really catch my eye for being what I perceive as blasé. However, I learned (thanks to a brow beating phone conversation) that my dear mother is a huge Lee Child fan and has read every Jack Reacher novel to date. She saw the movie (first movie I think she has seen in a theater since Gone With the Wind) and was outraged at what she thought was the ridiculous portrayal of her beloved character. She handed unto me a request (some other people might call it a directive) that I see the film at my earliest convenience and write a review for it (my mother, by the way, is my biggest fan and does sometimes read my blog, a fact that occasionally causes me to awaken in the middle of the night with night terrors).
So I saw the film. Was it any good? Sort of yes and sort of no. If all you want is some action and a slightly more complex story than the usual folderol than yes, it is good. It has action, (some) story, and more action. However, this script definitely stood too long in front of the cliche machine gun and has been riddle with them to the point that the cliches ooze from every pore and orifice. Every thing in this film is taken to such an extreme that is becomes almost laughable; Jack Reacher is SOOO amazingly awesome and the villain is SOOO ridiculously evil that the film disconnects from reality and transforms itself into a cartoon.
From what I know about the Lee Child Jack Reacher character it is indeed laughable to cast Tom Cruise in the role. Jack Reacher is supposed to be 6’5″, 250lbs with blond hair and blue eyes. Tom Cruise is (reportably) somewhere between 5’6″ and 5’9″ (based on the fact that he seems to be at eye level with costar Rosamund Pike I am inclined to go with the 5’6″ reports), dark hair, and if he weighs more that 150lbs I will eat one of the thousands of nerd t shirts I have in the room with me. As a guy who really is 6’5″ and 250lbs I find this almost insulting.
The other thing that is going on here is you can almost hear Tom Cruise pleasuring himself to this movie. His character is the most awesome thing since the invention of fire and the whole movie looks like a vehicle to show the universe that there is no one greater in the history of humanity. I don’t know. Maybe Jack Reacher is written in the books as a combination of James Bond, Bruce Lee, John McClane, and the Six Million Dollar Man, but if not this thing reeks of self gratification vanity project (If I am wrong and Jack Reacher can single handedly best five guys in a fight and is one of the top sniper marksmen in the world than I owe you an apology, Tom).
The weirdest thing for me is the director, Christopher McQuarrie, also did one of my all time favorite movies the Usual Suspects. It is a cool, complicated, and twisted story with perfect pacing and an awesome cast. I can sort of see an attempt at that level of complexity in the first half of this film but eventually what was a good, complex story devolved into a regular action shooter and that stuff at the beginning that seemed so cool early on devolved into a lot of unnecessary plot complication.
The movie starts off with a sniper in a parking garage randomly shooting five people in a clear attempt to shock the audience. He is caught in like 15 seconds of police work by Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo (the Help, Last King of Scottland, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) of the local (now that I think of it, I have no idea what city this was supposed to be taking place it) police department. The shooter turns out to be a trained Army sniper named Barr (Joseph Sikora-Safe, Shutter Island, Boardwalk Empire). He tells them to find Jack Reacher, who has been out of touch for years. Jack shows up like a conjured fairy and gets hired by Barr’s attorney Helen (Rosamund Pike-Surrogates, Die Another Day, Pride and Prejudice) as investegator in spite of the fact that he thinks Barr is guilty.
At that point the story boils down to a by-the-numbers whodunnit. Jack uncovers a conspiracy somehow involving city construction contracts. A pretty girl (Alexia Fast-Helen, Repeaters, Fido (!!! AWESOME. If you haven’t seen this movie you suck. One of the great zombie films IMO) gets him into a fight with the local color and later gets him into more trouble. The most laughable evil yet at the same time non-threatening villain ever (in my opinion) shows up to do evil stuff. The villain (Werner Herzog-Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn, Encounters at the End of the World) starts off with some incredibly complex plan to execute his evil but at the end of the film has all the complexity of a boss monster in Resident Evil. Robert Duvall surfaces like a submarine to play an ex-Marine Corps sniper for some reason. The denouement was pretty much lifted from Tango and Cash (if you have seen how bad that film is you understand how that was not a compliment). Cars get chased, guys get shot, and at the end Jack Reacher is so amazing that he literally hurts your eyes to gaze upon his countenance.
The stars. If fun action is what you are going for this movie has what you need. One star. There were a couple of really good car chases that were quite enjoyable (although a 70 Chevelle SS should be able to shred an Audi on it’s front grill like a soggy cornflake. American muscle car >>>> any Euro lamo-mobile in all ways that matter). One star. A series stab at something more complex than normal. One star. Overall not a total waste of time and money. One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes. Jack Reacher is so ridiculously awesome at everything (I’m sure even his flatulence has deadly combat potential while still attracting the ladies) that you spend half the movie wondering if this is really some kind of Police Story style spoof. One black hole. If the main character shreds every obstacle with the strength of his mighty masculinity in the course of the movie every aspect of the action and story loses all gravitas and turns into a grind, which is what happened here. One black hole. Only through the magic of camera angles and highly selective supporting actor casting can Tom Cruise even be considered worthy of this role, not to mention capable of contesting with one other human (much less five) in a brawl. One black hole. The story had so much complex potential at the beginning but by the end ended with a stupid brawl in the mud. It also drank deeply from the cliche punch. I’d like to say “It’s no the Usual Suspects” but I think that would just have too much irony even for me. One black hole. The villain was given to us as the most evil man since they cloned Hitler, but very little of his back story was given to allow us to see what he was about. It essentially boiled down to “He’s evil because he has an evil eye and we tell you so. Also he ate his own fingers.” One black hole. Grand total: five black holes.
A grand total of one black hole. Meh. Worth watching if it comes on TV and your remote is out of reach. Nothing on here really needs a big screen so feel free to watch it from the comfort of your couch. Date movie? Probably not. Nothing in here for the ladies except for a bare chested Tom Cruise, and you will suffer greatly in comparison. Bathroom break? Nothing really stands out as being more worthless than the rest of the film. I’d say the scene with Reacher and Helen in the hotel room doesn’t add much, but if you are only here to see Tom Cruise shirtless don’t skip out on this.
Thanks again for reading. More this weekend, plus I have to do my 2012 recap. I think this year I am just going to do my top and bottom 10 in two different posts. Last year I went all complex and at the end of it felt like I might have just wasted a bunch of time. Feel free to comment on this film or my review here. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.