Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Reach for "Jack Reacher"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 33 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Jack Reacher (2012)
Running time: 130 minutes (2 hours, 10 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material
DIRECTOR: Christopher McQuarrie
WRITER: Christopher McQuarrie (based on the novel, One Shot, by Lee Child)
PRODUCERS: Tom Cruise, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Gary Levinsohn, Kevin J. Messick, and Paula Wagner
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Caleb Deschanel (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Kevin Stitt
COMPOSER: Joe Kraemer


Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Vladimir Sizov, Joseph Sikora, Michael Raymond-James, Alexia Fast, Josh Helman, and Robert Duvall

Jack Reacher is a 2012 drama and thriller film from writer-director Christopher McQuarrie. The film stars Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, a fictional character that originally appears in a series of novels by author Lee Child (the pen name British author Jim Grant). Jack Reacher the movie is based on the ninth Jack Reacher novel, One Shot (2005). The film follows Reacher as he investigates the case of a military sniper charged in a mass shooting.

Jack Reacher opens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where an unknown man readies a sniper rifle and shoots five people dead. Former U.S. Army sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is arrested for the crime. Investigating Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) and District Attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) pressure Barr during interrogation to accept a plea deal that would spare him the death penalty. Barr, however, will only say, “Get Jack Reacher.”

Not long afterwards, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), a former U.S. Army Military Police Corps officer (a “military cop”), arrives in Pittsburgh, but Rodin and Emerson will not let him see the evidence against Barr. Reacher meets with Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), Barr’s attorney and the District Attorney’s daughter. Reacher reluctantly agrees to help Helen, and soon finds himself drawn into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with unknown forces that do not want the case against Barr investigated.

Jack Reacher is a suspense thriller. Because Reacher is always on the move and because the surprises and twists and turns come so fast and furious, the film is as much an action movie as it is anything else. Jack Reacher’s action movie credibility may be in doubt because the film isn’t jittery and loud like so many action movies. The explosions and gunfire are held to a minimum, so when they do happen, it means more to the narrative. Jack Reacher just makes the most out of its theatrics.

Everyone is a supporting actor and character to Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher, but some make the most of their time. Standouts include David Oyelowo as the dour and menacing Detective Emerson, Jai Courtney as the vicious killer named Charlie, and the always-welcomed Robert Duvall. As the retired Marine and gun range owner, Martin Cash, Duvall brings some much-needed levity and humor to the film. Cash throws Reacher off his game a bit, which makes Reacher vulnerable and more interesting as a character in the movie’s final half-hour or so. That makes it seem as if Reacher really could be killed, in turn, heightening the sense danger.

Jack Reacher is a perfect role for Tom Cruise. Cruise’s obvious aloofness and brusque charm, as well as that innate cold-bloodedness (which he tries to hide), are a near-perfect fit for Jack Reacher. Cruise as Reacher is just fun to watch, and I found that not knowing what crazy, unexpected thing he was going to do or say made Cruise/Reacher fascinating, even enthralling.

I’m surprised that this movie was not a bigger hit than it was. Outside of the Mission: Impossible films, this is one of the better Tom Cruise movies. Jack Reacher shows why Cruise is a true movie star and a rather good actor to boot.

8 of 10

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

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