Review: Jack Reacher

daniel cohen reaches for the sky…

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Plot: A highly trained investigator named Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) comes back seemingly out of no where to aid a defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) in a case involving five dead, gunned down by a sniper who’s accused to be an ex-marine (Joseph Sikora) who was in the service with Reacher.

This film is pretty simple to review: With Tom Cruise it works, without Tom Cruise it doesn’t work. While the other actors do a good job, and are perfectly engaging in their own ripe, it’s Cruise who elevates what could have been a really dumb and corny movie altogether. I could see someone like Jason Statham or Paul Bettany being considered for this role, and it would have been boring as hell and painful to sit through. Cruise just has that ripple effect that makes everything around him seem better than it really is, and it’s that reason why we get a cool, intense, and bad ass detective based action flick.

But it does begin and end with Cruise. I loved this character. Jack Reacher is not only someone you don’t want to mess with, but he’s funny, and unbelievably charismatic. This is all Cruise. In fact, Cruise seemed a little more subdued than normal. He’s not yelling too much here, but it’s still classic Cruise. But in watching Jack Reacher, it really is a testament to the actor, because when you really listen to some of his dialogue, not many actors could have pulled it off. It reminds me a lot of what people say about Harrison Ford and Han Solo, where if you listen to the dialogue, it’s pretty shitty, but Ford makes it work in spades.

The scene that really sold me on the character is when he’s at a bar, and some young girl (Alexia Fast) starts hitting on him. In this moment, Reacher is an asshole, but also a good man all at the same time. At the end of this whole sequence, you are totally on board with this character. And this is paid off even more when Reacher meets up with the girl in a later scene.

But while all the scenes with Reacher are very strong, the movie does have other stand out moments that kept pushing this beyond the run-of-the-mill mystery thriller. The first scene in particular is really well directed by Christopher McQuarrie. It’s a sniper scene that kick starts this whole plot, and while it’s intense and tension filled, it is very hard to watch due to recent current events. The audience I saw it with seemed a little uncomfortable during these opening moments, so fair warning.

The other non-Reacher moment that was really intense is the treatment of an underling. Sure, we see underlings get punished all the time, but this one in particular was really cruel. The big villain of the film played by Werner Herzog is very over the top and comic booky, but I liked him. He seemed very much like an old school villain you would find in a 80’s/90’s Schwarzenegger action movie. The performance worked. He talks about the horrors he spent in a Siberian prison and what he had to do to survive, and believe me, it really sucked. He basically asks the underling to do the same thing…yikes. But nevertheless, it was a very tense scene, and reminded me a lot of Looper earlier this year.

And while Cruise is the best part of the film, all the other actors step up their game as well. Pike is very solid as the female lead, aiding Reacher in his investigation. She definitely has a lot of spunk to her. Richard Jenkins as a D.A. and David Oyelowo as a lead detective on the sniper case are also strong supporting characters. There were other characters that didn’t quite hit for me. Jai Courtney plays one of the main villains, and wasn’t nearly developed enough. And as much as I love Robert Duvall, he plays a big role at the end, and his performance made the movie way too lovey-dovey and jokey that distracted from the climax.

Speaking of the climax, it could have been better. The story itself is great all the way through. It’s a solid little mystery that had me very engaged. Most of this is because of Reacher’s character though. I just loved following him around as he did his detective work. He really sells some of the more unbelievable plot points. Unfortunately the climax left a lot to be desired. Some of this is because of Duvall’s character, but it just seemed underwhelming. They also force the hell out of a big dramatic fight that was just plain lazy writing, and didn’t feel consistent with Reacher’s character.

The movie is not without it’s flaws. It’s over the top at times, and there’s some forced character defections and plot twists that could have been written better, but I had a blast with this movie. Cruise is in rare form, and I absolutely love the last scene of this film, and is why I would love to see this character again. One random gripe that has nothing to do with movie though that I need to get off my chest is that I really hate trailers. The trailer for Jack Reacher not only ruins one of the most bad ass moments of the film, but it basically ruins an entire scene because you know how it’s going to end. Trailers really need to stop giving stuff like this away…WTF.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.