Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Wener Herzog, Jai Courtney, Vladimir Sizov, Robert Duvall
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Release Date: June 1, 2013, 5:29 pm
Rating: PG-13 for
Run Time: 02h:10m:00s
"I am not a hero. I'm a drifter with nothing to lose." - Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise)
Movie Grade: C+
DVD Grade: B+
Tom Cruise apparently chose the Jack Reacher character as something he could build another movie franchise around. Reacher is a bit older and allows him to transition to a more mature action star. And history has shown us that these aging action stars can maintain and long and profitable run, well into their 60s and in certain types of roles, their 70s. As I sat down to watch this film, I tried to remember the last Tom Cruise movie that I had watched and enjoyed without being thrown out of it by the persona of Tom Cruise. There is always an interesting discussion of the real life actions of an actor bleeding over into their fantasy world job. In the same way you don't want to walk up to a convenience store clerk with in your face politics all over them, you prefer your screen performers to not espouse causes, especially causes you don't like. Weird criminality like the bizarre behavior of Mel Gibson and Nick Nolte or unfortunately finding out about wing-nutted beliefs like Clint Eastwood or deceased NRA scion Charlton Heston.
The story of Tom Cruise is just downright creepy. The whole Dianetic aspect of his life is weird enough but then there are those videos of Cruise with his crazy eyes and taking on Brooke Shield over post-partum depression. Recently several authors have written lengthy exposes of Scientology, but don't do much more than describe the take over of Lafayette Ron Hubbard's con game by a new generation of huxsters, personified by CEO David Miscaivage, who grew up in the "church". Of course, it is no more than similar to the course followed by Mormonism or any other of the slightly creepy but very profitable religions out there, if you are at the right side of the money pyramid. Usually in America, if you don't have sex with children and don't stockpile machine guns, you can pretty much do what you want. The mainstream Mormons dropped celestial marriage, at least openly, and after 170 years or so of existence, were able to run one of their bishops for President of the United States. The strangeness of the belief system might have had some drag on his electability, but the strangeness of Cruise's world hasn't really affected his box office appeal as one of the highest grossing stars of all time. Jack Reacher ends up in the mid-range of Cruise projects, lagging far behind the Mission Impossible franchise but doing much better than the Rock of Ages bomb.
Many were shocked when Tom Cruise was announced as the actor to portray Reacher on the screen. Cruise is known for being somewhat diminuitive and Reacher is described in the books as six foot six and somewhere over 250 pounds. His epic fights with gigantic foes and groups of a half dozen are a central part of the story (besides his legendary shooting abilities and incredible investigative skills.) Author of the series, Lee Child pronounced himself satisfied with the choice of Cruise and no doubt cashed the check.
The film Jack Reacher suffers from being based on one of Lee Child's lesser Reacher novels, called "One Shot." This particular Reacher novel has a less than interesting plot coupled with poorly drawn characters. It seemed as if Child was suffering from a short publishing deadline geared toward pecuniary rather than artistic merit. Unfortunately this is common with the Reacher novels and actually only a few are really very good cover-to-cover reading. Several are uneven in a similar way to One Shot with a healthy helping of tedium interspersed with flashes of quality suspense or violence. Much of the Reacher novels take place in his head while literally nothing goes on in the plotline. This sort of thing doesn't transfer to the screen very well.
This movie had the additional poor luck to have its premiere overshadowed by the mass murder shooting tragedy in Connecticut and its early run took place during some of the most intense anti-gun publicity this country has ever seen. One of the big issues in the gun safety debate was Hollywood as purveyor of pornagraphic shooting/killing thrills. Despite that, Jack Reacher deserves its PG-13 rating, which is in line with the prim nature of the Reacher books. Most of the real violence is fairly tame hand to hand action, although the opening sequence is a bit shocking in the context of the gun violence debate.
Robert Duvall picks up a check in a supporting role of a former Marine who runs a shooting range and lends some sorely needing acting chops to a pretty wooden film. Speaking of wooden, Rosamund Pike is wholly unbelievable in her role of the lawyer and her chemistry with Cruise is laughable. It's almost like she was cast as his wife instead of his love interest in the film. Among the villains, Jai Courtney brings the same strong elements that served him well on the Spartacus: Blood and Sand series on Starz, where he portrayed gladiator Varro. It was a high profile year for the Australian actor because he also found himself opposite aging Bruce Willis in the lates Die Hard vehicle. Veteran actor/write/director/producer Werner Herzog finds himself in a role reduced to almost a cameo as a mystery man.
Ultimately, if you depend on Tom Cruise to provide you a certain cinematic product, you won't be disappointed. If you are a fan of action/suspense thrillers, you might be.
Disc One in this Combo Pack Set contains the Blu-ray Feature film and Special Features including When the Man Comes Around, You Do Not Want to Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons, The Reacher Phenomenon, Commentary by Tom Cruise and Director Christopher McQuarrie. The Blu-ray version is 1080p with English 7.1 Dolby digital audio, French 5.1 Dolby digital audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital audio, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby digital audio and English Audio Description. Subtitles are English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Audio Disc Two contains the DVD version of the film, which is anamorphic 16x9 with English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital audio with English Audio Description. Subtitles are English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. As part of the promotion of this release the set comes with a $10 off Ticketmaster coupon (through August), the first chapter of Lee Child's next Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back (through June) and a Digital copy of the film.
Joseph Burke June 1, 2013, 5:29 pm