Not since Donnie Darko has a movie opened with an opening scene that was such horrible timing. Darko started with a plane engine falling into a house and killing a kid. Since 9/11 occurred shortly before the films release, the studio released it directly to video (where it became a huge cult hit).
Jack Reacher starts out with a guy shooting six random people from a parking garage. In light of the recent shooting at Sandy Hook, this became very problematic. And I have to admit, it wasn’t comfortable for anybody watching that scene. It really is too soon. I don’t believe that’s the films fault, and there really is no way to edit the scene out.
This quickly becomes a much smarter film than the usual care chase, shoot ‘em ups.
Perhaps that’s because it’s written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. He wrote The Usual Suspects. It’s based on a bunch of novels in which the Jack Reacher character is a tall, Nordic man. Sure, Tom Cruise needed to reach another 12 inches to get there, but with his swagger and smug smile – he pulls the role off. I can’t say I’d blame fans of the book for being mad. If you have a character in over 10 novels that looks a certain way – it seems you can cast an actor that fits that part better. But I digress.
One of the problems I had with this is that it reminded me too much of A Few Good Men. Now, I’ve seen thousands of movies so it’s not so bad if there’s a cliché or two. It’s when the same actor was in both movies that I have the problem. In this, I immediately wondered in the opening scene why the bad guy was putting money in the parking meter (they show you in close-up, how are you not supposed to wonder about that?). When Reacher joins in the investigation, it’s that reason alone that has him believe in the mans innocence.
When he was investigating the other slam dunk case (in A Few Good Men), it was the fact that a guy being transferred hadn’t packed his clothes.
And when it comes to the gorgeous Rosamud Pike (Barney’s Version, Die Another Day, X-Men: First Class), I couldn’t stop thinking about the relationship Cruise had with McGillis in Top Gun; especially the scene where he leans in without a shirt on. She thinks it’s for a kiss. He hands her the keys and tells her to go home and get some sleep.
That doesn’t mean these two don’t have chemistry. They do. And the rest of the cast is perfect. David Oyelowo (The Paperboy, Lincoln), Richard Jenkins, and Robert Duvall are always welcome on the big screen. It’s just a shame that when Duvall pops up, it’s about the time the movie starts to slide downhill and become just another goofy action picture. It’s weird how the movie can take itself so seriously in the first half, and then become a Lethal Weapon style flick in the third act (including a rip off of the Mel Gibson fight scene with Gary Busey).
Some of the jokes work. When Reacher hands Pike a note and says “Hold on to it. It’s a motive.” She angrily responds “What are we playing, Clue?”
Other attempts at humor fall flat. One involves Reacher going into a drug dealers house. We know it’s going to get ugly and when it does – the thugs attacking him make it look like a Three Stooges routine. That scene could’ve been done so much better.
Seeing director Wernor Herzog cast as the villain – made me forget about the overrated Javier Bardem in Skyfall. He’s blind in one eye and missing fingers. How friggin’ cool is that?!
I remember as a kid reading reviews of movies, and often times the critics would comment that certain films glorified a drug dealers lifestyle. Well, when I saw the Mustangs, Camaros, and Chevelles that these local druggies drove around in…
although when Reacher shows up breaking their hands and busting knee caps, that ends the good times.
I’m not sure why I was on the edge of my seat during so much of this when it’s really rather predictable. Yet I was, and the two hour flick seemed to go by faster than those muscle cars.
Perhaps Quentin Tarantino can watch this movie, since he’s so in love with those ‘70s action flicks. This movie didn’t go over the top and they knew when to quit in the final gun fight. It’s the one thing that ruined his last movie (Django Unchained).
For a Christmas popcorn flick, this is the one to pick.
I’m giving it 3 ½ stars out of 5.