Jack Reacher

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a man drives a van into a parking garage across the Allegheny River from PNC Park and, after dropping a quarter into the meter, readies a sniper rifle. He takes aim and appears to randomly kill five people on the river’s North Shore Trail from long range before fleeing in the van.

The police soon arrive at the scene of the murder, headed by Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo), and they discover a shell casing as well as the coin used to pay for parking. A fingerprint taken from the coin points to James Barr, a former U.S. Army sniper. When the police raid his house, they find the van, equipment for making bullets, the rifle in question, and Barr fast asleep in his bed.

During an interrogation by Emerson and the District Attorney, Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins), Barr is offered a choice between life in prison in exchange for a full confession or guaranteed death row, as Rodin has never failed to convict. Thinking Barr is going to confess when he takes the notepad, they are bewildered when he instead writes “Get Jack Reacher”. Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a drifter and former U.S. Army Military Police Corps officer. Reacher later arrives in Pittsburgh after seeing a news report about Barr and the shooting. Emerson and Rodin deny Reacher’s request to view the evidence but agree to let him see the suspect. Barr, as it turns out, was somehow brutally attacked by fellow inmates while in police transport and is now in a coma. Reacher meets Barr’s defense attorney, counselor Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), the District Attorney’s daughter, who’s been saddled with the apparently hopeless task of saving Barr from the death penalty.

Helen says she can arrange for Reacher to see the evidence if he will become her lead investigator. Reacher retorts that he is not interested in clearing Barr. He confidentially reveals that Barr had gone on a killing spree during his tour in Iraq but was not prosecuted because the victims were under investigation for major crimes — and the U.S. Army wants them forgotten. Reacher, then vowed that if Barr tried anything like this again, he would take him down.

Reacher agrees to investigate if Helen visits the victims’ families to learn about the people murdered that day. Reacher goes to the crime scene and finds inconsistencies with this location, and thinking a trained shooter would have committed the killings from the cover of the van on the nearby Fort Duquesne Bridge. After Helen reports her findings about the victims to Reacher, he suggests that the owner of a local construction company was the intended victim, with the killing of other random victims intended to cover up that fact.

After a seemingly spurious bar fight, Reacher realizes that someone is attempting to strong-arm him into dropping his investigation. Reacher is later framed for the murder of the young woman who was paid to instigate the barroom brawl, but this only motivates him further. Reacher eventually follows a lead at a shooting range in the neighboring state of Ohio, owned by former U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Cash, who will talk only if Reacher is able to demonstrate his U.S. Army sniping skills.

The real perpetrators are members of a Russian gang masquerading as legitimate businessmen. The gang’s elderly leader spent much of his life in a Soviet Gulag and is known only as the Zec (prisoner). The gang kidnaps Helen with the aid of Detective Emerson and holds her hostage at a quarry. Reacher outwits the mob guards, killing them with Cash’s help, before confronting the Zec about the conspiracy.

Reacher and Cash flee the scene with confidence that Helen will clear Jack Reacher’s name. When Barr awakens from his coma, he tells Helen that he has no recent memory but believes that he must be guilty of the shooting. Barr’s mental reconstruction of how he would have committed the shootings confirms that Reacher’s theory was correct from the beginning. Still unaware of all these developments, Barr is willing to confess and accept his punishment, fearing that Reacher will mete out justice if the law does not.

REVIEW:

Apparently, this is Tom Cruise weekend for me, which is odd because I’m not really a fan of the guy, but sometimes that’s just how things play out, I suppose. This particular Cruise film, Jack Reacher, was the subject of some debate when it was released, particularly regarding the casting, which I will touch on shortly, but could that one thing be enough to make or break this action thriller based on a popular series of books?

What is this about?

When ex-military cop Jack Reacher investigates an elite sniper charged with killing five people, he teams up with a beautiful defense lawyer — and they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game in this exciting thriller.

What did I like?

Throwback. Think back to 70s crime thriller films like Bullitt. If you’re one of those people who misses those kind of pictures, then this is right up your alley, as it seems to have a similar structure in pace and tone to those films. Even the car chase seemed to be something out of those gritty films instead of today’s slicked up CG crap.

Subdued. If you go into this looking for big explosions and whatnot, you will be gravely disappointed. Yes, there are some action scenes, but they aren’t the focal point. In fact, they serve as more of an icing on the cake. The main course, though, is how Cruise, as Jack Reacher, goes about solving this case and helping Rosamund Pike’s character keep the alleged killer from receiving the death penalty.

Much needed. Enter Robert Duvall as a grisly old Marine turned shooting range owner. After their initial meeting, Reacher calls him in to help in the climax. Duvall brings in some much needed comic relief to a film that was really starting to drag. He wasn’t laugh out loud funny, but the couple of one-liners he spouts, as well as his actions, are enough to liven things up and get the audience through the last 10 minutes or so.

What didn’t I like?

Pike’s peaks. Look, I’m all about looking at cleavage as much as the next guy, but I think they went a bit overboard with Rosamund Pike. In nearly every scene she’s in, they make sure that the audience is focused on her chest. A couple of times that is fine, but every…single…time?!? That was a bit much. Did I mention that she was pregnant when filming this? So, the fact that she is a bit more voluptuous than normal, probably had something to do with that. I just can’t get over how tasteless it was that they did that.

Casting. I haven’t read this book, but from what I hear, Cruise is far from what Reacher actually looks like. His height and build are far from they way the character is described. Someone with a build similar to Dwayne Johnson is more of what Jack Reacher actually looks like. Not saying Johnson should have been cast, but you have to wonder why they picked Cruise.

Stick to filmmaking. The villain of this film is played by German filmmaker Werner Herzog. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, his voice is sure to ring bells. When he first appears, he is scary as hell, but later on when he reappears, he is almost a bad Bond villain. For me, the guy just doesn’t’ work as a villain, especially given the tone of the film. He just seems to be a bit to comical for the serious, reality grounded flick.

In the end, when all the dust clears, many people went crazy for Jack Reacher. However, I wasn’t one of them. Yes, this is a well-crafted film, but I couldn’t embrace it as much as I felt like it needed to be. Despite my personal opinion, would I recommend it? Believe it or not, yes I would. I think a wide variety of people would enjoy this very much, I just wasn’t one of those that was fawning all over it. That being said, check it out sometime!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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