Movie Review: JACK REACHER (2012)
There is almost a sub-genre of the typical dramatic thriller, ones based on intense novels. John Grisham and the late Tom Clancy obviously come to mind, the most recent being the latest JACK RYAN instalment with Chris Pine. Another movie that sees a mainstream commercial actor in an author backed role is Tom Cruise in an adaptation of a Lee Child novel, JACK REACHER. Here is my Movie Review…
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
JACK REACHER is your run of the mill drama about a mysterious conspiracy that only someone who doesn’t want to solve it, can, of course. The movie opens brilliantly, with almost 10 minutes of no dialogue, setting up the story with just enough intrigue and interest to keep watching. It’s a great hook. A sniper shoots a number of people in a crowded public place. When arrested, the only thing he says is that he wants Jack Reacher. Before anything else can be uncovered, the sniper gets beaten up and goes into a coma. So now, the only person that can answer any questions that an eager and overzealous public defender needs to know, is the mysterious and uncooperative Reacher character.
The story starts out pointing to all signs of the former Army Sniper being guilty, however, the deeper Reacher digs during his reluctant investigation, the more he uncovers a cover up. It’s a cliche’d story about a conspiracy, a patsy, ulterior motives, looking beyond the obvious and all the things that make up a tight, riveting thriller. There’s nothing new here, except, maybe the performance of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. A former Army Investigator who drops out from the face of the Earth at his own choosing, Cruise’s character acts like he almost knows he’s in a B-novel adaptation of a detective thriller. Almost every scene and one liner uttered by Cruise has these hidden layer of knowing smirks and nods, acknowledging the throwback to that retro genre of movies. The dialogue and lines have shades of cheesy P. I. movies, but Cruise’s deliveries make it work.
The story of JACK REACHER is predictable and unoriginal. However, there are many elements that make it at least, an entertaining movie. Cruise plays the character with a sort of subtle satire, that fits the swagger of the role. A street fight scene that points out the cliches of fight scenes. A close quarter attempted pummelling where the villains stumble over themselves like a slapstick comedy while Cruise is unscathed purely due to dumb luck. The dry wit that Reacher exhibits are all signs of the movie being too aware of itself as a cliche’d movie, that’s trying not to take itself too seriously. Even the ending is reflective of this, where Reacher proves that he is the ultimate epitome of an anti hero.
Rosamund Pike is a delight as always, playing the eager public defender who coerces Reacher into helping her prove her client is innocent. Her best scenes are how she acts utterly appalled at Reacher devil may care attitude and his lack of explanations regarding his investigative techniques. Their chemistry is awkward, but I feel like that was intentional.
The sequence of events leading up to the end are exciting enough to keep one watching and be engaged. It’s slow, but with just enough car chases and brutal actions scenes to going on to keep the audience in their seas, and hungry to see it through till the end. JACK REACHER is not the perfect thriller, but there are many levels that make it an enjoyably mindless entertainer.