With the sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back coming out this coming weekend, I thought it be fun to revisit the original Jack Reacher! As always, the review will be spoiler free.
Jack Reacher is directed by Christopher McQuarrie and stars Tom Cruise along with Roasmund Pike, David Oyelowo, and Jai Courtney. The movie came out in 2012 and involves an investigation of a sniper shooting of five people. The case appears to be an easy conviction of the supposed shooter. However, the shooter asks for a man named Jack Reacher and when he comes to town, he begins to unravel a much bigger story around the incident.
Let me start be saying that I have always been a fan of Tom Cruise. I try to keep the actor’s performance separate from the actor’s personal life (which is very necessary to be able to view Tom Cruise’s films objectively). Cruise is a big proponent of giving movie-goers their money’s worth when they see one of his movies, which I can really appreciate because you know going into a movie with Tom Cruise that he’s going to give his best effort. Another little nugget concerning Cruise is that he loves to work with the same group of writers and directors. Christopher McQuarrie, the director of Jack Reacher, has worked previously with Cruise on movies such as Valkyrie and would work with him later on in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation a few years later. It seems to work well for Cruise as even his weaker film efforts are still very watchable.
Jack Reacher falls near the weaker end of Cruise’s filmography, being a mixed bag at best. There is a good amount of to like in this movie. For one, Cruise gives a typically strong performance. He is very believable as the popular book character and is the saving grace of this movie. He delivers some laughably bad dialogue with enough pinache to make it sound mediocre. Also, the opening scene showing the shooting really had me locked in to this movie (I became pretty disappointed that the rest of the movie failed to deliver). McQuarrie utilizes a really cool technique in the opening scene by using no score or any added sound effects. It adds up to a very chilling and visceral shooting scene where the only noise is the blast of a sniper and the muffled screams of people across the river in Pittsburgh.
However, McQuarrie utilizes this technique at the wrong times too. He uses no music during a few hand-to-hand combat scenes and a car chase scene. In these scenes, with escalting action occurring, no use of score just made the scenes fall flat, failing to get my heart racing or put me on the edge of my seat. I found this to really be a shame since I thoroughly enjoyed the score when it was used.
There are some pretty bad performances in this movie as well. Rosamund Pike is pretty awful as Helen. Throughout the entire movie, she had a frightened, wide-eyed expression on her face, making everything she said not believable whatsoever. I thought this was a real shame since she was so incredible in Gone Girl just a few years later. Her character was also poorly written, leaving her to only be a damsel in distress. Another actress who meets Jack Reacher at a bar is also pretty lousy. She delivers the same clunky dialogue as Tom Cruise but isn’t anywhere close to his acting caliber.
The writing was pretty subpar in totality. There were a lot of very noticeable genre cliches. The villains (Jai Courtney and others) are your standard “look menacing but have zero motivations bad guys.” Within this writing issue, the movie creates a tone issue. The movie at times tries to be very gritty but then is hampered by its PG-13 rating to completely payoff. However, in other times, the movie tries to throw in a bunch of jokes and act like a popcorn action thriller. It never truly figures out what it wants to be.
Overall, Jack Reacher is a subpar action movie with solid potential that is merely sporadically entertaining. Because of this, I’ll give Jack Reacher a C-.
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