Jack Reacher

There's a famous story about Raiders of the Lost Ark that you might have heard, where the script called for a big fight scene between Indy and a very large man with a very large sword. When the time came to film that scene, however, Harrison Ford was just getting over the flu and totally didn't want to go through all that effort, so instead of fighting, he just pulled out his gun and shot the guy -- inadvertently creating one of the most memorable scenes ever.

This movie does exactly the opposite and creates a scene that, mercifully, I'm already starting to forget.

The movie is based on a book called One Shot by Lee Child, part of a series featuring the character of Jack Reacher, an ex-military policeman. Tom Cruise (Knight & Day) decided that this was the next franchise he wanted to try to ruin, now that he seems to have utterly destroyed the Mission: Impossible line. Again, I never read the books, but I know a little about them, and they've never seemed like my cup of tea. The plots are good, apparently, but his writing style most closely resembles a telegram written by Mickey Spillane:

"[Reacher] had spent Friday night in South Beach, Miami, in a salsa club, with a dancer from a cruise ship. The boat was Norwegian, and so was the girl. Reacher guessed she was too tall for ballet, but she was the right size for everything else. They met on the beach in the afternoon. Reacher was working on his tan. He felt better brown. He didn’t know what she was working on."

I'm wondering if he was originally paid by the sentence rather than the word. Anyway, something terrible has happened in Pittsburgh, where a sniper has killed five people. Police quickly home in on ex-Army sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora, Shutter Island), who snapped while on duty in Iraq and randomly shot four people, so everyone figures he's just escalating. But when asked to write out his confession, he instead writes, "Get Jack Reacher" -- who happens to be the guy who investigated the shooting in Iraq.

Enter Rosamund Pike (Wrath of the Titans) as Barr's lawyer, Helen, who has taken the case against the wishes of her law firm, and also her father, played by Richard Jenkins, Let Me In. He just happens to be the district attorney. Reacher asks if that's legal, and she says unfortunately yes, which seems wrong to me, but who knows. Though Helen keeps insisting that her job is only to keep Barr off death row, not prove him innocent, eventually she decides that Reacher just might be right when he says that Barr isn't the person they should be after in the first place.

Then there's David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) as Emerson, the detective in charge, who calls Reacher "Army" and sometimes seems like he's trying to hit on Helen. The script calls for some flirting and tension between Reacher and Helen, naturally, but that doesn't actually work out very well and was a little painful at times. Tom Cruise seems more asexual every movie.

Playing one of the bad guys is Jai Courtney, soon to be seen as Bruce Willis' son, Jack, in A Good Day to Die Hard. Another bad guy, known as The Zec, is played by Werner Herzog, and I still can't figure out if he was supposed to be the main bad guy or not. "Zec" is supposed to be short for заключенный (roughly zakljuchenny), Russian for prisoner. The weird part is that both Helen and Reacher hear the name and instantly recognize it as meaning prisoner. The other bad guys seem scared of him, but I'm not sure why. The scene where he punishes an underling who disobeyed orders is just silly.

Robert Duvall (We Own the Night) comes close to saving the movie with his appearance as Cash, owner of a rifle range where Barr practiced, but he can't quite manage it since he doesn't show up until it's almost over. Poor Tom Cruise was saddle with the line "I want to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot," quite possibly the most ridiculous threat ever uttered in the history of cinema. It's hard to save any movie once someone's said that.

I'll give it three out of five, and while I see that imdb is currently ranking it much higher, I'm willing to buck the trend. I would have considered three and a quarter if Emerson had had a better part, because I like the actor, but no luck there, and I'm only going as high as three because I was pleasantly surprised by the plot. Oh, and they gave Lee Child a cameo, which I always think is nice -- he plays the police officer who gives Reacher back his stuff after he gets out of jail. And thankfully, there are as yet no obvious signs of a sequel.

Image: 
Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall. Robert wonders how he ended up in this mess.

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Please help me with some

Please help me with some great quotes from the movie. There were some great ones, like drink blood from the boot etc. I cannot remember them. Suggestions for sites to visit?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

  • Allowed HTML tags: <abbr> <acronym> <address> <bdo> <blockquote> <del> <hr> <img> <ins> <pre> <q> <sub> <sup> <dl> <dt> <dd> <ul> <ol> <li> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <table> <caption> <col> <colgroup> <tbody> <td> <tfoot> <th> <thead> <tr> <b> <big> <cite> <code> <dfn> <em> <i> <kbd> <samp> <small> <strong> <tt> <var> <u> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options