Saturday, December 22, 2012

Movie Review: "Jack Reacher"

Jack Reacher is a pulp action movie in the vein of 1970's Steve McQueen.  There are car chases, mysteries, and a slightly more gritty view of everyday life.  In Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise portrays the titular character, and while I have never read the books, so I cannot say I agree or disagree with some critical statements that Cruise is far from 6' 5" and blonde, as a moviegoer I felt that this was Cruise's best action performance in years.

I actually buy Cruise as Reacher, an uber-smart drifter who can give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money, with the physicality of a bar brawler.  Reacher lives a life of freedom, no home, debt, or ties to society, he just travels from place-to-place, often using a fake identity wherever he goes to right the wrongs of justice.  A former military police officer, Reacher may be the true supercop, he's almost superhuman, but there and again, that is what makes Jack Reacher pulp.  If you have never enjoyed characters like James Bond or Sherlock Holmes, then you will not enjoy Jack Reacher, but if you do love the aforementioned characters, or at least similar characters, then you'll love this movie.

Based on the ninth novel in Lee Childs' Jack Reacher series, One Shot, Jack Reacher comes to Pittsburgh to clear the name of a former military sniper who was set up for killing five people in cold blood, but Reacher, being the supercop that he is, manages to uncover a conspiracy behind the killings. The mystery behind the sniper and the conspiracy that unravels from that, are the best parts of Jack Reacher.  The movie is suspenseful, almost Hitchcockian at times, in particular the sniping sequence, where we see the crosshairs, we know what will happen, and we're on the edge of our seat just waiting for him to fire.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie proves he has great cinematic chops.  In particular, I was in awe of the first ten minutes, where there is no dialogue of any importance, but all visuals moving the story forward.  We learn everything we need to know about the case of the sniper in these shots, gathering all of the evidence and discovering who Reacher is all via the shot design and the exquisite editing.  Though, even for the brilliant piece of pulp entertainment that Jack Reacher is, with the exception of the Jack Reacher character, the majority of the other character's in Jack Reacher are stock lawyers, DAs, gangsters, and corrupt detectives, in particular the villain portrayed creepily by filmmaker, Werner Herzog.  The connection between Herzog's character and the shootings is never fully defined, leaving me confused when Jack Reacher and Herzog's men showdown in the final thirty minutes as to why I should care.  And as for Rosamund Pike's character, Helen, why does she start the film dressed conservatively and suddenly at the midpoint of the movie, she's wearing such low cut clothing it's distracting?  There was no discernible psychological change in her character as to why she'd change the way she dresses everyday?  Perhaps this was a mistake in the costuming department, or maybe McQuarrie just succumbed to the urges of his inner twelve-year-old?  I guess we'll never know.

Still, even though Jack Reacher falls into some of the common trappings that these kind of pulp stories can, I really love the character of Jack Reacher, and enjoyed Tom Cruise in the part.  Featuring one of the most pulse-pounding car chases in recent movie history, and some occasional humor that comes from Reacher's analytical mind often pointing out human flaws, Jack Reacher is a fun movie that any fan of these kinds of stories will enjoy, and I for one would love to see a sequel.

I give Jack Reacher a B-

No comments:

Post a Comment