Film Review: Jack Reacher

As you’re reading this, the world didn’t end in 2012, so 2013 has arrived, RhettMedia is back and by the looks of Paramount’s latest release Jack Reacher, ImageTom Cruise is very much still Tom Cruise. Delving into the action genre once more, Cruise’s latest picture is an adaptation of the popular Lee Child novel One Shot. With a thirty year career at the top of the box office, Cruise has the ability to pick and choose roles that he has the most faith in, and with Jack Reacher it is clear that his selection process involves sticking firmly to his comfort zone.

In Jack Reacher, Cruise plays a mysterious private investigator that moves around the United States like a ghost as a means of solving murder cases that pique his interest. In this particular outing, he stumbles upon a case involving a homicidal sniper who has picked off several seemingly unconnected civilians from the lavish comforts of a multi-storey car park. Reacher has history with the shady accused party, having served together in the army, and so appears as if by magic to insert himself into the investigation to prove or disprove the man’s guilt amid the dangerous, murky waters of political conspiracy.

The film benefits greatly from its roots, with the foundations from One Shot lending itself favourably to shaping the tension and giving context to your average take-or-leave ImageHollywood thriller. The action itself is decent enough, with enough set pieces and violence to satiate those looking for buzzes, with the crime back-drop providing just enough story to keep the film ticking over. Where the film hits its high points though is in its humour, never quite taking itself completely seriously as a Tom Cruise picture often does. In addition, the supporting cast is respectable enough for Cruise to bounce off without being overshined, with Rosamund Pike offering a good romantic foil and exchanges with the excellent David Oyelowo manufacturing the film’s highlights. In this regard, the film is well-balanced, with self-deprecation providing the anchor to what could potentially have been little more than a Tom Cruise vanity project.

However, it’s not all plain sailing for Jack Reacher. Tipping the scales at a bulky two hours and ten minutes, the plot is sound with the lay-out of the novel as its foundation, but the movie veers off course at times and fails to tie story arcs up neatly enough. The main antagonist changes three times over the course of an hour, with the decision-makers obviously feeling not one of them strong enough to carry the picture for its full run-time. The main villain is an elderly man who obviously cannot partake in the fight scenes and is so largely insignificant to the plot that he is merely killed off as an after-thought before the final credits, while his crony takes much of the brunt of the action scenes while not matching up enough to Cruise’s Reacher to the point that they had to add an unrelated political double-agent to the story as well. The main thematic tone of the film surrounds Reacher and his own personal understanding of justice, but by the film’s conclusion, the motivations of the villains are so sparsely correlated that Reacher’s focus becomes distorted as to who is being given comeuppance that the hero’s form of justice ends up looking like a meandering and inconsequential mess.

Channelling the popularity of the book series into movie mega-bucks is particularly in vogue at the moment as discussed last year here at RhettMedia (https://rhettmedia.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/opinion-hollywoods-adaptation-factor/), and is a sound decisionImage from a business point-of-view. However, the problem with this film lies in the typical arc of Tom Cruise self-aggrandising as a top-rank action movie star, where amid extended car chases, a 5-on-1 brawl won by Cruise and an eyebrow-raising martial arts face-off in the pouring rain, we are beaten over the head with the aggressive ongoing agenda trying to market Tom Cruise as the ‘coolest man in the world’. Add to this the ‘epic’ speeches that come across as stilted and clichéd, and there have to be questions raised as to whether or not Cruise can still believably perform these roles and whether he should really be pushing himself to reinvigorate his career. The film suffers at Cruise’s insistence to play the hero, and with such a widely scrutinised reputation and personal life reflective of modern attitudes to celebrity culture, it may prove far more critically fruitful for Cruise to contemplate his role selection more deeply, in particular to stop playing the hero and start becoming the screen villain that his pop cultural reputation affords him.

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~ by jrhett on January 14, 2013.

One Response to “Film Review: Jack Reacher”

  1. Lee Child has sold out to the Hollywood BS!! Jack Reacher is one of the best and most loved fictional characters in the past 2 decades. He is 6’4″ and weighs over 240 pounds. He is as much like Hollywood as a back woods hermit. Cruise epitomizes all that is wrong with Hollywood and the misguided hype to attract movie goers. Cruise is a sham in most things, but to portrait Jack Reacher is a disgusting departure of the true Reacher character. His body type is more like a midget than the Reacher character. Shame on Lee Child, shame on Hollywood.

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