**1/2 (out of 5)
December 21, 2012
Tom Cruise as REACHER
Rosamund Pike as HELEN
Richard Jenkins as RODIN
David Oyelowo as EMERSON
Werner Herzog as THE ZEC
Jai Courtney as CHARLIE
Joseph Sikora as BARR
Robert Duvall as CASH
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Sometimes stubbornly not reading the original source material of something pays off. It helped me with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” last week, and now I think it’s helped me with “Jack Reacher.”
Ever since I first heard about this movie, I heard about what a bad casting choice it was for Tom Cruise. This was, in fact, the second biggest complaint I heard to the middling choice for the movie’s title. Fans of the books point out that the character of Jack Reacher is the ultimate badass, standing six and a half feet tall, built of muscle. The casting of a 5-foot-9 pretty boy just didn’t seem to work.
I’ll give the fans that. After all, there are several moments in the film that were written for Reacher to be physically imposing, and Tom Cruise just isn’t. (For example, one character points Reacher out as a guy who could “kill a girl with one punch.” I don’t see Cruise killing anything with one punch, unless you’re talking about a cup of Hawaiian Punch that he poisoned.)
Still, not having this pretext, the casting of Cruise as Jack Reacher didn’t really bother me. Of course, that didn’t save the film, either.
The movie follows a defense attorney named Helen (Rosamund Pike) who is trying to defend a veteran wanted for the murder of five people in Pittsburgh. Of course, her case is tough to put together seeing that he’s a former military sniper, and he was put in a coma by other prisoners. A mysterious military detective named Reacher (Cruise) shows up to help her with the case. As he starts to uncover new evidence, it becomes clear that they are both in danger.
While I didn’t particularly like “Jack Reacher,” I didn’t hate it, either. I was somewhat indifferent to it, but there is a certain degree of enjoyability that can be gleaned from what is, in essence, a long-form pulpy police procedural. A lot of the dialogue and plot twists seem awkward or trite in the film, often due to amazingly sour chemistry between Cruise and Pike, but I got the sense it would have come across much better on the page.
There were other parts of the movie that just didn’t work, including the now obligatory shirtless scene with Tom Cruise. I know he looks good for a 50-year-old man. Hell, he looks good compared to this 41-year-old man writing this review. But he is still showing his age with his weirdly sagging man-boobs. This is the fourth movie in a row that Cruise has headlined that goes out of its way to show him shirtless, and they even reference it in the film itself. I applaud Cruise for being able to surround himself with such great yes men, but he needs to stop channeling William Shatner from his “Star Trek” days.
Other parts of the movie range from the weird (including the casting of art-house director Werner Herzog as the villain) to the uncomfortable (such as the sniper sequences and second amendment talk that feels awkward in light of the Sandy Hook tragedy).
In the end, though, “Jack Reacher” is enjoyable enough for a Saturday matinee. It just doesn’t live up to its own release. Had it come out in September and starred Nicholas Cage rather than being a big Christmas release with an A-list actor, I would have been much more forgiving.