Review: Jack Reacher

THE SETUP: A former military cop (Tom Cruise) with society issues is asked to investigate the murder of a bunch of people by a guy he already charged with doing the same thing years ago.

THE THOUGHTS: As with any movie based on a book, it’s always important to state whether you read the source material or not. I have. Lots. I’m a big fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, having read all the stories of the former military cop turned drifter. Good reads if you get the chance.

Is Tom Cruise the spitting image of Jack Reacher? Hell, no. Reacher is a mountain of a muscley man, whose physical presence envelopes any room he’s in. Does Cruise pull off the Reacher-vibe? I’ll say yes. People forget that Tom Cruise is also an actor, besides a movie star, and has done some damn fine work. I was really OK with him in the role. Sorry, you have to take it as a movie that stands on its own.

More of the good: this movie has one of the more fun car chases I’ve seen in while. It was definitely made with that 70s feel to it, helped by the use of aredChevrolet Chevelle SS. I’d even say the whole movie had a Charles Bronson/Steve McQueen texture of the anti-hero who’s more interested in justice than the law. The story was also pretty good, capturing the language of the books in a few scenes and his fighting style. Pretty cool.

Where the movie fell apart for me:

1)   He’s not Batman – Jack Reacher is pretty kickass but he can be hurt and he’s not some mythological figure. Unfortunately, that’s how he’s portrayed, whether as a ghost or some embodiment of justice.

2)    Where’s the mystery? – the movie ruins the “did he or didn’t he” question pretty early on. It would have been much more effective if they’d played with that.

3)    Not very original – As much as it’s nice to see that old school anti-hero, it also has the problem of not bringing anything new to the table. Just because we haven’t really seen Cruise do this before doesn’t mean we haven’t seen it before.

I’d mention Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins and Rosamund Pike are in this too but it’s really a one-man show.

3 stars – good movie, take a friend.  If you’re a fan of the books and can get over the fact Cruise isn’t the physical specimen that Jack Reacher is described to be, than you’ll probably enjoy seeing the character on screen. It’s a fun crime, action story that would have benefited from a bit more originality and mystery.

Random Recommendations
Rescue Dawn (2006) – Director Werner Herzog shows up in Jack Reacher as the big bad guy but he’s better known as a quirky filmmaker who jumps between documentaries and independent film. This falls in the later category. An intense story of a soldier trying to survive after being shot down during the Vietnam War. Christian Bale is pretty great.

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