DVD Review - Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise plays Jack Reacher, a popular character in a series of books by Lee Child. The majority of the story comes from the novel "One Shot," which is about a man named James Barr in Pittsburgh who is accused of the sniper shooting of five people but Barr professes his innocence and calls for Reacher's help.

Reacher is an ex-military investigator who has history with Barr from a long time ago. Reacher teams up with Barr's defense attorney Helen, played by Rosamund Pike, at first reluctantly because he thinks Barr is guilty. Reacher eventually discovers a greater conspiracy and has to figure out who's behind it and why. It's essentially a murder mystery, but not really. There's some dramatic irony because writer-director Christopher McQuarrie shows us who the bad guy is very early on.

Reacher follows leads while the bad guy covers his tracks. Reacher gets closer and closer until the bad guy has to either set Reacher up or kill him. Cruise has a couple of fight scenes. He has a car chase and a shootout at the end, and that's it. It's not as thrilling or fun as Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, but then again, Jack Reacher isn't an action film.

The opening scene is pretty horrifying, as we watch five people be brutally murdered one by one. Other than that, there's only one other scene that's interesting in any way. Cruise is such a charismatic screen presence that he makes us want to follow him. Pike has one good moment, but there was not much to her character. The one great scene is when Charlie, played by Jai Courtney, kidnaps Helen and Reacher calls them. It's a clever turn that happens.

Unfortunately, the ending undermines Reacher's cleverness. Reacher has basically solved the case. He even has video evidence and the fact that Helen has been kidnapped. Instead of going to the police or to the district attorney who is also Helen's father, played by Richard Jenkins, Reacher goes into a trap with only the help of an old man named Martin Cash, played by Robert Duvall.

It might have been how things unfolded in the novel, but there's something unnerving about the violence that opens the film and the violence that ends it. Both are needless. McQuarrie felt the need to put a gun in Cruise's hand when his killing precision with a firearm was not required being that the rest of the film is all about him simply using his wits. Even Werner Herzog who guest stars admits what Reacher does is stupid.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 10 mins.


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