Jack Reacher is not gritty enough
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.