Runs and jumps and leaps and squints: Jack Reacher

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Tom Cruise’s latest Jack Reacher is the cinematic equivalent of fast food, albeit slightly nicer fast food…like Subway. It is pleasant, even rather enjoyable and with a touch of nutritional value…but imminently forgettable.

Apparently, this movie is an adaptation of a book series, with which I admit I have zero familiarity. It is clunkily episodic, like one of those goony Janet Evanovich novels…though blessedly without the audience having to suffer through Katherine Heigl this time. (See: One for the Money…no, wait, please DON’T see One for the Money…it was godawful). It also has a fun Sherlock Holmesian procedural-featuring-a-quirkily-flawed-antihero vibe.

Tom Cruise is actually a delight as the titular character. I have to admit since his Oprah couch-jumping episode I have enjoyed his subsequent movie output’s steady parade of unhinged, tightly wound, micro men. He has a niche, and he does it well.

(As an aside, I also started liking Britney Spears a lot more after her umbrella-wielding, head-shaving meltdown. Not sure what that says about me.)

The rest of the film doesn’t fare as well. It is entertaining throughout…but just don’t think about any of it too hard. The movie’s tone is ALL over the map, veering wildly from gritty thriller to methodical potboiler to camp action-fest. Robert Duvall pops up unnecessarily in the final act in his typical grizzled, cranky old wise man with a heart of gold role. Richard Jenkins is wasted as a dubiously motivated D.A., and Rosamund Pike is just surprisingly bad, in fact stultifyingly stiff, as Reacher’s defense attorney sidekick.

The plot is fairly conventional as Reacher runs and jumps and leaps and squints to find the real killer in a too-close-to-current-headlines sniper shooting. The motivation when finally revealed is like something from an episode of 70s-era Dallas, and Werner Herzog’s villain even worse, like J.R. Ewing if he was raised in Das Boot.

The film lurches toward some interesting commentary about how our military/industrial complex can churn out and abandon broken souls for whom violence and gunfire are the only language they know. But just as quickly as the film touches on an intriguing socioeconomic critique about America’s preoccupation with firearms, it flies into a well-paced, lovingly-edited chase scene, and the insightful moment is gone.

There was potential here for a fun yet intelligent popcorn flick, a la Skyfall. In fact, Tom Cruise seems like he was primed and ready to be in such a movie. It’s a shame that director Christopher McQuarrie, so good with The Usual Suspects and Valkyrie, showed up ready to direct a very special episode of CH*Ps.

11 thoughts on “Runs and jumps and leaps and squints: Jack Reacher

  1. was bobby duvall squished along the wall behind an open door? (i know my stereotypical movie moments, do i not?) tommy c. has owned my heart since pooh-poohing pysch 101 gibberish shared among the “little knowledge is a dangerous thing” masses…your next to last paragraph makes me proud to know you! wow! how did you get so geniusy? perfect review!

  2. Thank you for this insightful and entertaining review! I was considering seeing this movie today with my hubby. Maybe we’ll wait for it to come out on video. 🙂

  3. Read the books, the series is amazing! I won’t go see the movie, Tom Cruise was ill cast as Jack Reacher, who is 6’5 and 250. His size, strength and brawling ability are a huge part of the series. Better to cast an unknown than itty bitty Tom Cruise!!! #boycotting

    • Good to know, Carmen! I didn’t realize that. That explains some things that didn’t totally make sense to me while watching, including Jack Reacher’s ability to take on four or five thugs all at the same time. That was a little hard to believe with Tom Cruise.

  4. I love the Reacher books by Lee Child; the character is fascinating and unique and he is why the books series keeps selling. I was horrified when I read that Tom Cruise was cast in this film. I doubt the person responsible for casting even read the books!

    • I suspect you may be right, Jan! I found the premise intriguing enough that I may try one of the books one day…whenever I get back to reading again. Ugh. Not enough hours in a day any more. I liked the film and Cruise ok, but I didn’t have any prior knowledge of the series. Hopefully, someone may take another run at it someday with a different cast!

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