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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Jack Reacher | Tom Cruise, David Oyelowo, Richard Jenkins, Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog, Robert Duvall | Review

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Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise is back kicking ass on screen (so what else is new?) as the titled character Jack Reacher,  written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (the Oscar winning screenwriter of“ The Usual Suspects”) based on “One Shot” the ninth in the series of Jack Reacher crime novels by Lee Childs.

I haven't read, nor am I familiar with, any of the books, but I was told Cruise doesn't exactly fit the physical description of Reacher who is supposed to be blonde haired, 6 foot 5 inches tall, and 250 lbs;   in other words, nothing like the actor.  Welcome to movieland, where star power trumps the written word.  Given that fact, there is no bigger, charismatic star to bring in the box office bucks than Cruise, now in his early fifties, who shows up all buffed, ready and eager to make the role his own.

In lieu of the recent unconscionable murder of twenty school children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, you would think the release of this film that starts with a random shooting of innocent people would be held back, at least while the horrendous attack on innocent people is still fresh in the public mind. But, I guess the studio bigwigs figure ticket revenues, especially around Christmas time, overrides anything else.

Cruise makes his entrance as Jack Reacher not long after the opening sequence in which we watch as a sniper appears to randomly gun down and kill five people in Pittsburgh. Ex army sniper James Barr is quickly arrested and charged with the crimes. The evidence points to Barr and lead detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) is convinced it is an open and shut case.  But, the accused man claims he is innocent and in a hand written note scribbles down just three words, “Get Jack Reacher”, an ex military cop and enigmatic loner who moves from place to place.

After seeing the news report, Reacher turns up in the city. We soon find out that he has a history with the accused man. He knew Barr from his stint in the military and remembers him as a trained, top notch sniper who would not have missed a target.  So why was there a sixth shot that didn't connect?  Reacher begins to have his doubts about who is responsible for the shootings when things don't add up as to how Bar would have committed the heinous crime and comes to the conclusion he must have been framed.

The question then comes into play, was it really a random shooting or made to look like it in order to cover something else. If Barr didn't do it, than who did, and what was the motive?

Rosamund Pike plays Helen Rogin  the District Attorney's (Richard Jenkins) daughter,  a public defender (unnecessarily baring lots of cleavage) representing Barr who asks Reacher to dig deeper into the investigation. What ensues are predictable plot twists, a red herring, the requisite, edge of your seat, car chase scene, shoot outs, and Reacher engaging in several hand to hand fights with several thugs connected to a former Soviet prison survivor, turned shadowy villain known as “The Zec” (played by German director Werner Herzog).

Eventually, Reacher teams up with Cash, (Robert Duvall), an ex Marine that runs a shooting range, for much needed back up during an explosive gunfight with the bad guys.

Be forewarned that this film includes brutal, graphic violence and torture which are unsettling and not easy to watch. There are also a couple of ridiculous scenes.  For instance, in control, with his gun pointed at one of Zec's henchmen, Reacher throws it on the ground so he can fight just man on man. Another stupid, laughable scene involves a couple of bumbling thugs who wind up hitting each other in the head instead of Reacher.

This isn't a role that requires the superstar to stretch his “acting” muscles. Jack Reacher is nothing more than another disposable murder mystery/action vehicle in which Cruise gets to have fun playing a super cool, wise ass vigilante character that lives by his own set of rules and you don't dare mess with.

No doubt, this film is just the first of the series of Jack Reacher franchise installments.  Expect a forthcoming sequel that undeniably, once again, will have Cruise in control.


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