What, exactly, is Tom Cruise thinking?
More to the point what was I thinking? Going along to experience the cinematic chloroform that was Jack Reacher?
Before I go further let me state – for the record – that I am a Tom Cruise fanboy. He can be intense and unconventional as well as commercial. He’s a great actor.
Jack Reacher is based on a the main character from Lee Child‘s series of novels. Reacher is a drifter and former U.S. Army MP, who wanders about the U.S. dispensing justice as he sees fit. A moralistic, philosophical and effective vigilante.
Not that theres’ anything wrong with that.
Physically imposing, Reacher also has a photographic memory and a Sherlock Holmes-esque intellect. He owns nothing, lives nowhere, knows everything and fights to the death. So don’t annoy him.
In this film – an adaptation of Childs Novel “One Shot” – Reacher is co-opted by defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) to to defend a veteran sniper from Iraq and Afganistan who appears to have randomly shot 5 people in cold blood. Working from a rich source of fairly strong and obvious clues the police believe they have the case and suspect all sewn up. The death penalty awaits.
However things are never as simple as they appear and it takes Reacher to peer through the conventional veil of damning evidence to understand that the Vet in custody might not be the real perpetrator. And that the crime itself is more complex than first suspected.
The more Reacher digs the more he finds and its a pretty ugly and dangerous find to be sure.
The story itself is OK. Its actually pretty good.
What is baffling is the script with dialogue that would belong in a 40s or 50s crime noir film – and a C grade one at that. So against a 2012 setting it sounds weird and sadly comical. The actors don’t seem to know how to play it. Everything seems to be out of kilter. At one point Cruise delivers some kind of philosophical rant with all the gravitas of ordering a pizza. I just didn’t get it.
Also the look of Cruise was all wrong. Reacher is a 50’s something, off-the-grid urban nomad who has completed several tours of duty facing off against the most deadly killers in the US. He only has one shirt (the one he wears) and in theory that would mean one pair of underpants and one pair of socks. This facet of the whole Jack Reacher mythology wasn’t explored at any length. Much to my dismay.
In contrast Tom looks like he is auditioning for a spot on The Jersey Shore. The Jack Reacher we are treated to, seems to spend all his time at the gym, the tanning salon and getting his chest waxed.
Maybe they should have asked Mike Sorrentino (aka The Situation) to play Reacher instead. Would have been just as convincing.
Also while I’m in moan-fest mode. Rosamund Pike spent the entire film either exasperated with the oh-so enigmatic Reacher, or completely in his physical, sexual and intellectual thrall. In either case she accomplished this acting feat by opening her eyes really wide all the time. Like all the time.
Jack Reacher annoyed me. It was inconsistent, messy and couldn’t hold my attention. I think it also had a car chase.
3 out of 10