When a gunman takes five lives with six shots, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. On interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: Get Jack Reacher! So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Jack Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence and a secret to keep... (MovieWeb.com)
Turning a book into a movie is always a tricky task--especially when it's a popular book series and character like Jack Reacher. Lee Child's popular novel series makes its film debut as his book One Shot has been the first of his writings to be adapted for the big screen. When acclaimed actor Tom Cruise was first approached about the project, he was immediately interested, but wanted the author's blessing before signing on. When Lee gave the thumbs up, Jack Reacher was brought to life.
The story revolves around a former military police officer who is now essentially a drifter; he's left his life behind him and just moves from place to place, helping people but never getting deeply or emotionally evolved. While he's still a hero of sorts, he doesn't see himself as one and uses his detachments from people to his advantage. Cruise is certainly an interesting casting for the part, but he's got the acting chops for a wide variety of characters and Reacher is certainly not your usual Cruise role.
The plot for this particular Reacher tale involves Jack coming to the aid of a sniper he had met while in the service who allegedly shot and killed five civilians in cold blood. This theme is especially sensitive in our social climate these days after incidents in schools, movie theaters and the more recent Boston Marathon bombing. We're in a time where something like the events of this film really aren't too far from the mark and that makes a story like Jack Reacher a much scarier concept. To make it even more heartbreaking, but in an important way, Reacher forces the accused's lawyer to visit the victim's families and learn more about the victims, which humanizes their stories more, making them more than just names or briefly seen faces. The whole plot point of the sniper shooting civilians is a disturbing one, and when a flashback takes us from his scope sights to street level as they flee in terror, it gets even more so.
But the story does weave in some mystery elements. I was a little surprised that they played some of their cards right away, like showing you the shooter's face in the opening scene, so you know it's not really the guy who's being accused, but the mystery comes in how Reacher and the lawyer, Helen Rodin (played by Rosamund Pike), figure out who the shooter is and, most curious to the audience, just why the murders took place. The villains are a bit one dimensional which is probably expected for a movie like this, but the biggest setback the film may have may be in the character of Reacher. He's a cool guy who we want to be a hero, but, at the end of the day, while he'll lay his life on the line to best the bad guys, he's still looking out for number one. He's not warm, he's pretty rigid, and he doesn't really have a deeply relatable past that the viewer can invest themselves emotionally into. In that sense, he's probably more of a modern James Bond type character without the gadgets, nice suit, and world-saving heroism (and I really think Bond's story in Casino Royale gives audiences more of a story for the character that we can empathize with).
That in itself may be the movie's biggest drawback, and while it in no way fully ruins the film, it may hold it back from being something greater. Still, Cruise is fun to watch as always, and his fight scenes are not only believable but are masterfully executed. As pointed out in one of the Blu-ray featurettes, the action was filmed with less quick cuts and the camera was pulled back so we could see more of what was happening. It makes the action a bit more violent and believable -- and you can really feel some of those hits. And while I can appreciate great storytelling and acting, some of the dialog is a little weak, if not cheesy, at times, so the movie's most memorable moments tend to be those action scenes. A car chase later in the movie is exciting without needing to have frenetic cuts and nausea-inducing camera angles and moves, and Reacher's fight with five young punks outside a bar is a great example of what this guy is capable of.
The content for the movie is pretty rough, as you might expect. While the shootings aren't especially graphic, we do see some blood on the pavement under their bodies from an aerial view (and later again in a couple photographs), and we see them shown several more times in part via flashback throughout the film. Another disturbing scene involves the main villain relating a story to one of his thugs about being willing to do anything to survive. He talks about having chewed off fingers on both hands in order to survive, and we see his hand missing those digits (with the skin healed up around the stubs). He then commands the thug to do the same to his hand or he'll be shot and the man puts his thumb between his teeth and fights with himself to go through with it. When he cannot, he is shot to death (and then it's implied when another thug pulls out a large blade that it will be used to "dispose" of the body). Another character is shot in the head and, while we don't see the impact or the wound, we briefly see blood splattered on the wall behind them. Finally, and also quite disturbing, is we see a young woman be punched in the face and one of the villains holds his hand over her mouth and nose until she suffocates to death (which we see). Sexual content is limited to a super brief shot of a woman facing toward a window as she's putting on a bra, so we see her in small panties and her bare back, but nothing else (she's in a hotel with Reacher, so it's assumed they slept together). And a girl approaches Jack in a bar and tells him to leave with her, but he declines which leads to a brawl with male friends of hers. Language is a bit rough with Rosamund's Helen shouting "F--- you!"'at someone and her and other characters using quite a bit of blasphemy as well as other colorful words. The language isn't constant, but it's frequent enough, and the blasphemy is especially unwarranted.
Perhaps repeat viewings will give Jack Reacher a more lasting impression, but after just one, I found the film to be a good action/crime drama, but it just felt like something might have been missing to make it really rise above the rest in the genre. I'd be interested to see more Reacher adventures in the future, though; I'm curious where the character and series could go.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/5/13)
When The Man Comes Around (26:49) is a half hour behind-the-scenes making-of documentary. It starts out talking about the books and how the project came together, on down to casting Tom Cruise, getting author Lee Child's blessing (and making a cameo in the movie!), and Cruise working once again with Robert Duvall. It's really interesting and they show a good deal of on-set footage and what a few takes looks like after they yelled "cut!"
You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat and Weapons (10:27) is dedicated to the action in the movie. They talk about how they worked a style of street fighting into the movie called Keysi Fighting Method and how Cruise trained to fight in it. They also discuss the approach to the action and how it's more raw and not overly edited. We see some really great B Roll footage here too.
The Reacher Phenomenon (11:10) is completely about author Lee Child talking about the character of Jack Reacher: how he picked the name, the advancement and maturation of the character, and even the diehard fans that have been dubbed "Reacher Creatures."- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 4/29/13)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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