MOVIE MADNESS #154: JACK REACHER

I am going to go on record saying that I have never read one of sixteen plus Jack Reacher novels. I am not familiar with the character or what he looks like in the novel. From what I have read in articles and heard from friends, he operates above the law and is a ghost. He kind of sounds like a modern day “Equalizer”.

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In the film, Tom Cruise plays the legendary character of Jack Reacher. He’s a man who lives in secret, stays off the grid and has a deep knowledge in military hardware and protocol.

Reacher is pulled in when five people are gunned down by a sniper in Pittsburgh. The accused is a former soldier and someone Reacher investigated when he worked for Military Police.

He teams up with assistant district attorney, Helen (Rosamund Pike) and her dad (Richard Jenkins).

There is more to this shooting than meets the eye and the mission will push Reacher into familiar and dangerous territory as he must takedown a shadowy villain known as The Vec (Werner Herzog).

The movie is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who shot to fame when he wrote “The Usual Suspects” for director Bryan Singer. McQuarrie is one of Hollywood’s hottest screenwriters and he wrote Cruise’s next film “All You Need is Kill”, the screenplay for “The Wolverine” and is now in talks to write and direct “Mission Impossible 5”.

This is McQuarrie’s second film as director. His last effort was twelve years ago with the very underrated “Way of the Gun“. It was a really gritty actioner that relied heavily on the chemistry between Ryan Phillippe and Benecio Del Toro. McQuarrie proved he knew about action and what it takes to deliver an interesting thriller.

“Jack Reacher” is a whole other animal. The movie is pretty sober for a thriller. The pacing is slow and delivers each piece with like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I was surprised at just how slow the film was.

It also felt very much like a Paramount Pictures mystery film. The production design and sculpting reminded me some of the Jack Ryan or Alex Cross films, yet slower and more controlled. I don’t think that McQuarrie was doing what made him comfortable. I think maybe the pop culture obsession with Jack Reacher made it hard for the director. At least that is what it feels like on screen.

Cruise, like always, is uber-confident in his performance and I kind of liked his Jack Reacher. He’s an anti-hero and it is kind of refreshing compared to say the reluctant Jack Ryan.

Rosamund Pike is grossly miscast as Jack’s love interest/babysitter. There is just no chemistry between these two and well that really harms the film. Pike started off as a femme fatale in “Die Another Day” and her cold exterior is starting to warm up but there just seems to be something there that isn’t letting the actress feel natural in these  kinds of parts.

There has been lots of talk about how great Werner Herzog’s villain is in this film. For me it was quite a letdown. He has really two scenes and we never really get to know very much about him. What is his motive for doing what he does? Yes he’s creepy but for me seems like a waste of space. Jai Courtney is the main villain and funny enough he will play Bruce Willis’s son in “A Good Day to Die Hard”, next year. Courtney looks like a good choice to face off against Cruise and the fight really doesn’t disappoint.

It was nice seeing the reunion between Robert Duvall and Tom Cruise too. I have always liked their chemistry together and here it is like they picked up right where they left off.

Cruise could have another franchise here if he does what he did with the Mission: Impossible films and switches directors each time. The film version of Jack Reacher seems to be a work in progress and I hope it is given time to blossum.

3.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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