Jack Reacher is not gritty enough

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Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, and David Oyelowo. Rated PG.

It’s hard to resist a movie in which Tom Cruise says: “You killed that girl to put me in a frame, and I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot.” Right?

Some readers of Lee Child’s Reacher novels are displeased that Child’s protagonist is 6-5 and 250 pounds and Cruise—who is Reacher in Jack Reacher—isn’t, that we’ve noticed. But there’s so much other strange-good and strange-strange stuff going on, maybe aficionados will forget that, er, small point.

Right. Reacher is an ex–military cop gone outsider-vigilante. He takes the bus around America exacting justice on bad people, which sounds superslow but he’s weirdly efficient; he also has keen deductive powers. He’s Sherlock Holmes plus Matt Damon—I mean, Jason Bourne—plus Dirty Harry. He also relies on payphones. (Uh, how does he not spend days hunting down phone booths?)

Displaying serious pectorals, Cruise lampshades that blinding screen wattage to embody Reacher’s deadly cool. It feels rather un-Cruiselike. But he does pummel groups of baddies, telling them: “It’s okay. You’re okay.” They’re not, Tom. And there’s a witty car-chase sequence that involves much vehicular damage. It’s all kind of interestingly lo-fi.

Based on Child’s One Shot, this story involves Reacher with a Pittsburgh sniper case, a lawyer (Rosamund Pike), her daddy D.A. (Richard Jenkins), and a cop (David Oyelowo). Something else the hell is up. Yep, Russians appear—and, weirdly and fascinatingly, Werner Herzog as disturbing gulag survivor The Zec. Then Robert Duvall appears as a gun-range owner. Cruise palpably relaxes in his presence. It’s old-home week. Nice.

The climax, involving sharpshooters, is cool. Everything’s gritty, but not gritty enough. Even under Cruise control, the vibe feels off. And Herzog’s Zec hardly comes out to play. Come out of the shadows, Zec. Oh, okay. Scratch that.

Watch the trailer for Jack Reacher.
Comments (3) Add New Comment
A. MacInnis
I have read all of the Reacher novels save the most recent, which ain't out in paperback yet - they're easy-to-inhale, highly addictive pulp, with prose so stripped down that Richard Stark himself would get jealous - but I wouldn't even consider watching this film - I would picket theatres with a sign reading TOM CRUISE AS REACHER? PLEASE - if it weren't for... Werner Herzog? WHAT? I must admit the prospect of Tom Cruise and Werner Herzog inhabiting the same cinematic space has me pretty curious. What's the next scheduled apocalypse it could be taken as a harbinger of?
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Rating: -5
I Braineater
Patty jones : I am seriously missing some intelligent film commentary I had come to expect from John, ken, Ian (and dare i even include usinger) et al.
It's really one of the best film critique forums out there.
I know nothing about you and your film/journalistic pedigree but really don't care for the "chatter" style "review" you specialize in. How many times can you insert "um", "er","really?", "right?", "ok....." And other one to two word sentences. Are these literally your in-cinema notes straight to publisher's desk?
I'm no writer myself but I don't get paid to do it. These are just annoying reviews that have been bugging me for months.
I feel better now
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Rating: 0
A. MacInnis
Let me amend my comment above: saw the film, liked it, thought Cruise was actually pretty good. I expected him to turn it into a Mission Impossible vanity-fest but in fact he keeps it pretty reined-in, and there was some real craft and restraint on hand here - hadn't realized it was a Christopher McQuarrie film. His The Way of the Gun was pretty interesting stuff, I thought, and there's a clean, functional chilliness to the Reacher movie that fits Lee Child's stripped-down prose quite nicely. Not half-bad, really. Bet it ends up being better than the Jason Statham Parker film, anyhow (tho' I'm curious about that, too...)
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Rating: +8
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