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Movie Review: 'Jack Reacher'

Jack Reacher

Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Rated PG-13

What do you do if you’re a 5’6” actor with a bit of a crazy bent and you and the next role your playing calls for  a man who is supposed to be a 6’5” 240lb stoic man with a 50” chest and a penchant to kick a little ass?  Well, if you’re one of many on the internet, you cry foul.  Even if you’ve never read any of Lee Childs books, the though of casting an actor so glaringly different is just…well it’s stupid.  But if you’re Tom Cruise, you act damn it.  You act like you’re 6’5” 240lbs of muscle mass and you kick ass.  You act like you were never in a movie called Far and Away.  You act like you never jumped on a couch professing your love.  You just act like that bad ass, screw the haters.   Tom Cruise, you pulled it off, it’s too bad it wasn’t in a better movie.

Jack Reacher, based on the book One Shot by author Lee Child, is Cruise’s and Paramount’s newest attempt at creating a franchise.  Jack Reacher, the film, plays it safe…almost too safe.  Jack Reacher, the character, doesn’t play it safe or according to legend, doesn’t play by the rules.  He’s smart, maybe too smart.  That can be a problem, since if the character already has everything figured out, what’s the point of making the movie?   You’re not letting your audience have fun.  You’re not letting the character work to overcome any deficiencies he may have.  We’ve now essentially shown up to watch Tom Cruise’s take on a character that is nowhere his physical description.  But Tom Cruise is an actor damn it and he pulls it off.

Reacher is set around what appears to be the random shooting of five people as they spend their day at a riverfront park in Pittsburgh.  And given the recent events in CT, I was a little shocked that one part of this sequence (involving a child) wasn’t cut.  But after the events and the Pittsburgh’s police quick and studious investigative work, their shooter is found.  The shooter, given two options (life in prison or death) by the police and the DA (Richard Jenkins) asked for Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise). 

Recher, we learn, through the studious investigative work by the Pittsburgh police, is a former military man who spent most of his honored career as a military police investigator and he’s good…real  good.  But he’s been off the grid for the last few years and can only be found if he wants to find you.  Luckily, just as this is told to us, he shows up.  Thanks plot advancement, really no point in mucking around with more investigative work.  Reacher comes on as the investigator for the lawyer taking on the shooters case (Rosamund Pike).   He kicks the tires, looks under rocks and kicks ass as he pieces together the real story.

The problem with Reacher isn’t the execution.  Christopher Mcquarrie, a man who will forever hold a special place on the awesome wall because for writing the Usual Suspects sets up Jack Reacher quite nicely, paced without any dry spots and action sequences that keep you in the moment.  The problem lies with what I mentioned before, the story and its paint by the numbers approach with a villain that is a real weak spot (a sadly underused Werner Herzog).  I don’t necessarily need to solve a riddle, but it would’ve been nice to see a story with a few twists and turns.  There is one moment, towards the end, where it could’ve gone that route, but it chose not to and it’s a shame, it would’ve been a nice surprise. 

But I can’t hate this movie.  Everyone involved puts in their due diligence and it shows. I wasn’t bored watching Jack Reacher,   but I would’ve been a lot happier with a flavor other than vanilla.


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