Jack Reacher should not be released right now. Not because it’s a bad movie (it is) but because it begins by putting a child in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle and ends with a glorification of high-powered assault weapons. If ever there was a movie that screamed, “too soon,” it is Jack Reacher.
Tom Cruise stars as the titular Reacher, an ex-military policeman who is as brilliant as he is lethal. And he lets you know both at every chance he gets. Also, that he wants to be left alone (and you only find him if he wants you to). If these action beats feel familiar, you’ve already met Jack Reacher. While the mystery he’s brought in to investigate—a sniper kills 5 people but something just doesn’t smell right—is mildly interesting, the characters who populate the narrative are broad and stock.
The problem is that the protagonist is just too good at everything. He’s an expert marksman, brilliant investigator, wonderful lover, genius driver, master of espionage and intrigue, and topped off with a rapier wit. We need our heroes to have some foibles or failings. Reacher has none.
A prototypical action flick that entertains but reinforces every cliché of the genre, Jack Reacher is about as interesting as its protagonist. Serviceably acted by Tom Cruise, it doesn’t give nearly enough time to the fascinating antagonist, played with malicious brilliance by Werner Herzog. But rather than treat him as a perpetual villain, Reacher goes the Bond route and sets up the next adventure but tying up all loose ends.
Jack Reacher is something of an American version of James Bond. Mix in some Dirty Harry and you have an idea of who is Jack Reacher. And while the character might be interesting in the hands of a more deft filmmaker, Christopher McQuarrie (writer of The Ususal Suspects) is not that man, turning in a decent but unspectacular action thriller.
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