Does the new Tom Cruise thriller makes the grade as a top winter blockbuster? CityOut’s culture critic Nicky Paolucci thinks it fails owing to an unreachable main protagonist.
Jack Reacher (2012)
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall
Tom cruise stars as the title character in Christopher McQuarrie’s latest thriller,Jack Reacher, an adaptation of Lee Child’s novel One Shot.
In the film’s opening sequence, a shooting occurs from a parking garage; taking the lives of what seem to be five random victims in a park across the river, on Pittsburgh’s North Shore Trail. The shooter flees the scene, leaving behind a myriad of evidence which lead the police to his home, where the bullets, rifle, and gunman himself are all to be found. During an interrogation, the gunman, James Barr, will not plead guilty, but instead insists the police “get Jack Reacher”, a drifter who cannot be found unless he finds you.
Enter Cruise as Reacher – a stone-faced, mysterious former US Army military police officer, who has had a previous encounter with Barr. Reacher is uninterested in clearing Barr, but instead wants to “bury him”. He agrees to investigate the case alongside Helen Rodin (Pike), Barr’s defense attorney, to confirm Barr’s guilty sentence.
So begins the task of finding out what really happened through unconventional methods and questionable moral means.
Beyond the twists and turns of the plot, another questionable feature is the character of Reacher himself. There are many moments where the viewer should be rooting for the title character and feeling a mutual strive for justice, but his borderline unlikeable personality makes it difficult to do so. Many of the characters’ pasts are shown through flashback shots, but the nature and intent of Reacher’s is uncertain. His reluctance to be a hero provokes a reluctance to root for him.
The movie doesn’t rely on any special effects and is all stunt work, including a highspeed car chase (performed by Cruise himself), shoot out scenes, and – the most entertaining of all – a five-against-one fight outside of a bar, where Reacher really gets the chance to shine.
There are many sub-plots accompanying the main storyline; the strenuous relationship between Rodin and her DA father (Richard Jenkins); the story of the girl who caused the bar-fight (Alexia Fast); the quintessential villain with an accent (played by German film director Werner Herzog); and perhaps the best comes in the comic relief form of Robert Duvall. He plays Cash, an old Marine who provides Reacher with some target practice. Unfortunately, none of these stories are meaty enough to bring anything significant to the table.
Fans of Cruise’s and casual thrill-seeking cinema goers will enjoy what Jack Reacher has to offer, but anyone searching for anything beyond highly choreographed action sequences and lazy plotting might want to reach for the cinema programme.
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