Customer Review

215 of 247 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart, fun, well-paced detective/actioner, but leave expectations at the door., December 31, 2012
This review is from: Jack Reacher (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)
The main complaint I heard and read before JACK REACHER ever even hit theatres was from fans of Lee Child's series of books about this film's titular character, and it was always the same complaint: "Tom Cruise is too short! Jack Reacher is 6'5" and is built like a brick outhouse!!" And my response to that was always: "Can you think of an actor who's really good, does action well, has a lot of charisma, and IS ACTUALLY built like that?"

Christopher McQuarrie, the Oscar-Winning screenwriter of Bryan Singer's unforgettable THE USUAL SUSPECTS, and the writer/director of the very forgettable THE WAY OF THE GUN, picked up his pen and got back behind the camera for this potential franchise first outing for the cinematic adventures of Jack Reacher (Cruise), former Army military police investigator. He's, as they say in the film, a ghost. He has no fixed address, no credit cards, no phone number. In fact, the only proof of his existence is a bank account, his military record, and his military pension. He buys his clothes from Goodwill as needed and donates the old ones, hops on a bus, and goes wherever the day takes him. But in a very disturbing and wordless opening sequence, a man with a military-grade sniper rifle shoots five people in front of PNC Park in Pittsburgh. All the clues lead back to Army sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora, who spends most of the film in a coma) as a man who just snapped. The lead District Attorney (the great Richard Jenkins) is pushing for the death penalty, but the defense attorney for Barr, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) is looking to stop that from happening. It also happens that Helen is the daughter of the DA. When told to confess, with all the convenient evidence stacked against him, Barr only has one thing to tell them: "Get Jack Reacher". Once Reacher comes on the scene, he is fully aware of what's been going on, but uncertain as to why Barr asked for him, because he fully believes that Barr is guilty. Nevertheless, Reacher ends up working as an investigator for Helen, and runs afoul of the real reason those people were killed, and uses all his skills and investigative talents to find the truth.

It's true that this film is a little thin on character development. We know just enough about each character to keep the momentum going forward, but no more than that. Character motivation gets even less time. For all intents and purposes, this film feels more like a throwback to 80's detective thrillers, but with a smarter and more modern sensibility. McQuarrie seems much more assured behind the camera here than I've seen before, and he creates a labrinythian mystery here that feels organic as Reacher follows up on each clue, and Cruise seems to be having a good time playing a character that is somewhat out of step with the outside world, but always seems to be able to see the angles played against him. It's also true that some quality actors seem a little wasted here, with the only real exceptions being Pike, a menacing Jai Courtney (SPARTACUS) as the villain's right-hand man and a great supporting role by Robert Duvall as a retired Marine and shooting range owner who ends up coming along for the ride. Actors like Michael Raymond James (TERRIERS, TRUE BLOOD), Jenkins, and David Oyelowo (RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) are kind of shafted. Even famed director Werner Herzog, the real villain of the piece, is more of a cartoonishly creepy villain. Also true, apparently, to huge fans of this series, that the film in no real way resembles the book this film is based on, which is the ninth book in the series called ONE SHOT.

Why then do I give this film a 4 out of 5?

Because this was an incredibly fun film. I like protagonists that are on the outside looking in, and always seem to have that extra step ahead. Jack Reacher is very much kin to 24's Jack Bauer; they are both renegades, they're both very smart, they're both men of serious action, they follow justice and not the law, and if people would only listen to them, things would be over a lot quicker. Although, Reacher has a much more evident sense of humor than Jack Bauer ever did. He has some terrific zingers along the way here, particularly in a 5-on-1 fight scene. He also carries himself with an assuredness that is rare to see in a modern action hero. Most films at present have the heroes of the film constantly questioning themselves. Are they up to the task? Can they be the hero the people involved need? Can they win the day without compromising their values? JACK REACHER as a film and as a character throw those discussions to the wayside in favor of a more entertaining romp as opposed to a more navel-gazing reluctant hero that seem to dominate films of late. The pace of the film also seems nicely breezy as well, which has a bit of a mismatch of tone that the opening of the film would have us believe. While it's a long-ish film, it doesn't seem long at all.

I understand people's frustration with this film, but I don't subscribe to it because when it comes right down to it, I enjoyed the hell out of JACK REACHER, but if the box office indications are worth anything, it's unlikely I'll see more of his adventures on the big screen.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 9, 2013 11:23:59 AM PST
R. Lieblich says:
Since you asked, how about Duane Johnston (The Rock) as Reacher? His acting chops might be a bit short of ideal, but Reacher's not the most introspective character you'll ever meet. The problem with Johnston is that no one would put up the money for a film with him as Jack Reacher. Just a thought experiment.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 3:07:48 AM PST
Barbara says:
I thought Russell Crowe would be a good Reacher. He's got the chops,maybe not physically perfect but better than Cruise. Still, enough people have given this movie good reviews that I'll watch without prejudice.

Posted on Jan 18, 2013 12:46:28 AM PST
The perfect actor, one with true acting skills, to play Reacher is Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He's tall, solidly built, and has the charisma and intensity necessary to play a guy as intimidating this character.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2013 12:49:41 AM PST
Crowe isn't bad. Morgan isn't nearly enough of a name to carry a franchise like this.

Posted on Jan 26, 2013 6:04:51 PM PST
Jeremy says:
Maybe so James - but they should have taken a chance on Morgan! It would have been a more palpable fit; and besides it could have been a signature role for Morgan boosting his career to new heights. Cruise and Jack Reacher are not a match made in heaven if you know what I mean.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 9:33:58 PM PDT
I was just so disappointed that Tom Cruise, of all people, was picked to play Jack Reacher. I could not bring myself to go see the film. Tom Cruise just won't fit into my brain as Jack Reacher and i don't want the characters image ruined for me

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2013 7:57:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2013 7:59:24 AM PDT
. says:
Who the heck is "Jeffrey Dean Morgan" NEVER heard of this guy!
I'm having trouble deciding to watch this flick w/someone I at least know playing some character from books I have never read....I Def. would not have a problem passing if they would have put "Jeffrey" as the lead?!

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2013 10:59:30 AM PDT
GJW; Florida says:
Jeffery Dean Morgan played the "Comedian" in "The Watchmen" movie.

Posted on May 13, 2013 10:01:16 AM PDT
Good review, thanks, I am watching this right now. Not having read the Jack Reacher novels, I am not prejudiced against Cruise's height in this role.
I believe his performance is solid, he looks and acts thoughtful, determined, intelligent and skilled. I'd give it a 4 stars.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2013 3:44:42 PM PDT
Henna says:
"If you know what I mean"? No, what do you mean?
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