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Jack Reacher, an Edgy Mystery Drama (Film Review)

Back again in a taught mystery drama, the ever popular Tom Cruise takes on the Lee Child novel “One Shot” in the title role of Jack Reacher.  Expecting a bold action thriller, slow moving suspense filled Jack Reacher doesn’t come near the entertainment of Cruse’s action filled bread and butter Mission Impossible franchise. While my expectations were dampened because I believed it would be like the glitzy fast moving television trailer, I wasn’t completely disappointed. Like most movie franchises, the first one has to begin somewhere.

The story centers on the city of Pittsburgh were a sniper shoots 5 random people walking along a park side riverbank.  After forensics finds a thumb print on a quarter used to pay for parking in the garage from where the shooter stood, Bar (Joseph Sikora) a ex-military rifleman is quickly brought in for questioning.  Helen Roden, a lawyer and daughter of the district attorney Roden (Richard Jenkens) gets called in on the case.  Puzzled by Barr’s only reply given during his interrogation, “Get Jack Reacher”, Helen starts a hunt for the man’s request.  When a news report appears on TV naming Bar as the sniper killer, Jack Reacher shows up in the District Attorney’s office.

So starts Reacher’s painstaking investigation following leads, dealing with local punks, getting himself arrested and being chased by police in his stolen car, on a track to catch the real killer. It’s a lengthy film for a crime mystery and I found myself getting a little antsy in parts.  Some of the scenes are predictable and of course knowing the killer in the first minute of the film doesn’t help either.

Tom Cruise is Reacher, Lee Child is desk sergeant and Rosamund Pike is Helen Roden

As for acting, Cruise certainly isn’t an Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible series), Roy Miller (Knight and Day) or Vincent (Collateral), here he builds more of an analytical character who possesses a sharp mind and can reason well.  None of this deters from the persona that he has developed over the years yet it takes some getting used to.  It took me a while to really accept him as a loner much like Harrison Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, but nevertheless he holds his own in the role.

There are some downsides however, and that comes in the acting area.  I will just say it; Rosamund Pike was just awful in her role as Helen Roden the attorney defending the suspected killer.  She had no screen presence, could not deliver her lines with any believability and there is no chemistry between Roden and Reacher.  While this may be the fault of Director Christopher McQuarrie other signals show that she just wasn’t meant for the role in the first place.

Jai Courtney is Charlie and Tom Cruise is Reacher

Speaking of McQuarrie, this film marks the writer’s second go at directing and although he does well, it’s not a brilliant outing.  Some of his scenes are bland, has control issues with Richard Jenkens who fails as DA Roden, previously mentioned Pike issues and allowing poor choreography in the street fight between Reacher and the local punks from the bar did not help the production.

All that said, Cruise lovers will probably flock to the theater to see Jack Reacher even if  action lovers will probably wish they hadn’t.  It will probably do a fair box-office on the heels of The Hobbit and since there is very little opening against it, the ladies should save the day, unless they have a lot of last minute holiday shopping.

Jack Reacher has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence, language and some drug material.  The violence however is quite disturbing and awkward due to the nature of the crime and may tend to upset those who are still reeling from the recent shooting in Connecticut.  Also, I am not on a soap box here, but the MPAA should take a closer look at what they are judging to be PG-13 as an execution style killing coupled with a sniper shooting of innocents certainly must be considered for an R rating.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A good mystery thriller and nothing more.

Additional Film Information:

  • Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Joseph Sikora, Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall, Jai Courtney and Alexia Fast
  • Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
  • Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material
  • Running Time: 2 hr 10 min
  • Opening Date: December 21, 2012
  • Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

 

 

 

About John Delia

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John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for 8 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the South Eastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1.

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