Tuesday, January 1, 2013

JACK REACHER - Forget the internet outrage, Cruise IS Reacher

Jack Reacher is the final film to be seen of 2012. It stars Tom Cruise as the title character who has been taken from the Jack Reacher novels written by Lee Childs. There are seventeen in total but this first film adaptation of the series is the story of the ninth book called One Shot, which was supposed to be the title of this film but was changed so people who didn't know the book would begin to understand the character. Personally I prefer the title One Shot but that isn't the reason for this review so I will brisk past it. Ever since this film was cast fans of the books caused mass outrage across the internet as they felt Cruise was not the Reacher they had in their minds, mainly because Reacher, according to the book, is six foot five and two hundred and sixty pounds where as any human with eyes will know Cruise certainly doesn't fit this profile. I haven't read the books so I am unaware of the depths of this character but I think Cruise is the perfect fit for it especially charisma wise. I have read that Brad Pitt and Will Smith were rumoured for the role but I really can't imagine either of them as Reacher. The fans of the books may think Cruise isn't their man due to his physical presence but as an action lead the fans can relax because Cruise is perfect.

The film opens in style with a slick opening credit sequence before showing us the incident that triggers events of the film. Jai Courtney (to be seen later in the year as John McClaine Junior) pulls a van up in a parking lot, removes a sniper rifle from his van and shoots dead five people with six bullets. He litters the scene with evidence and disappears. The following day a different man is arrested and charged for the murders, a man with a history of murder with a sniper rifle whilst in the army. The only words this suspect uses are 'get me Jack Reacher.' While the police and District Attorney try to find out whom this Jack Reacher is, Tom Cruise arrives on the scene to announce his presence. Jack Reacher is a ghost, a man who drifts from place to place with no identification and brings justice to people who deserve it regardless of the laws. Reacher begins to discuss the case with the defence lawyer (Rosamund Pike) and tells the story of how the suspect, James Barr, was involved in a shooting which Reacher investigated, meaning Reacher knows Barr only too well. Reacher believes Barr to be guilty but as he begins to help investigate the case he realises he is becoming the target of 'random' attacks and that someone doesn't want him to dig any deeper. Due to this Reacher questions Barr's innocence and sets out to bring justice to the people who are doing all they can to cover their crime which is linked to a bigger conspiracy then simply five random shootings. Reacher's investigation leads him to a man known as the Zec (Werner Herzog) who will do anything he can to survive, including chewing off his own fingers.

There is plenty of charisma in this film, especially in the first hour. The opening sizzles and the introduction of Reacher is well done. As the crime is investigated we begin to see Reacher's investigating abilities and plenty of background exposition is delivered by showing how the lawyer's and Reacher's opinions differ depending on the information they have received. In this half we are also given some decent action sequences involving Reacher taking on five men in a bar fight and teaching them all a lesson. A fight with three heavies in a suspect's house where he receives a blow to the head from a bat, and an exhilarating car chase though the streets with Reacher being chased whilst being in hot pursuit of a potential lead. The action sequences are very well done by director Christopher McQuarrie and are acted out brilliantly by Cruise who brings his usual action panache to proceedings. The mystery cranks up to ten with plenty of intrigue floating around and the introduction of the Zec is horrifying as we see how far he will go to survive. Surely this could only make for an intense second half.

The answer to that would be no as the second hour falls apart. Once the centre point car chase finishes the story line becomes slightly generic and we begin to learn about a typical mole who is playing for the opposite team, and we meet an otherwise unmentioned war veteran who just turns up to help for no reason. This is nothing against Robert Duvall, who is great in the role, but he seems to be a character who was explored in the books but not so much here. This is how the second half felt, like much of the book was skimmed to get to a climatic fight. The Zec is never really mentioned and for a creepy villain he is reduced to two scenes, with is motives for the conspiracy never really being wrapped up. There are also many moments that don't make sense with Reacher giving the Zec's main henchman an opportunity to survive by challenging him to a fist fight instead of shooting him dead, what if Reacher lost the fight, everything would have been for nothing.

It is a shame how the second half turned as I was really enjoying it but by the end I felt completely unsatisfied with the plot never really wrapping up the loose ends. It felt like a film I had seen many times before and nothing could save it from falling drastically. The action scenes are well done, even in the finale, but it was all too generic and I never once felt afraid that Reacher was going to lose. The plot fails to realise which genre it should be settling in as at times it is a deep thriller and suddenly comedic fight scenes are thrown in which feel slightly out of place. Cruise is great in the title role; Pike unfortunately fails to back him up. The opening is great with the ending running out of steam. And the opening mystery disappears for the sake of mindless action by the climatic finale. This was a theme of the movie where something so good was equalled out by something particularly poor which means this has turned out to be a rather average action thriller, which is kind of what you expect from Tom Cruise now days. An underwhelming end to the year then.

Pros: Begins strongly and Cruise oozes charisma.

Cons: Fails to have any closure and loses its way in the second half.

6 / 10

Top 10 of 2012 so far:

1. The Dark Knight Rises     10 / 10 
2. Argo     9 / 10 
3. Skyfall    8.5 / 10
4. Silver Linings Playbook     8 / 10
5. The Hunger Games     8 / 10
6. Snow White And The Huntsman     8 / 10
7. Avengers Assemble     7.5 / 10
8. Looper     7.5 / 10
9. Ted     7.5 / 10
10. 21 Jump Street     7.5 / 10

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