JACK REACHER (Christopher McQuarrie, 2013)

A lot has been said about this movie and the Lee Child novel source material, "One Shot" being far apart (I have read that Reacher is supposed to be blonde), which is great if you haven't read the book because the film experience will be unique. In respect, JACK REACHER delivers some okay police procedural elements, and gritty action blended with humor. Rosamund Pike's lawyer character is totally underwritten, though, more like a sidekick. I'd have more respect if they made her the love interest, but I understand that's against character of Reacher as a do-gooder. 

Events are set in motion by a seemingly random shooting of five people in a park in Pittsburgh. The clues lead to a former US Army sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora), which the police quickly arrest. While in holding, he denies the crime, and writes on a notepad, "Get Jack Reacher". 

Reacher, a former military police, goes to investigate the shooting, teaming up with Barr's attorney Helen Rodin (Pike) whose father, District Attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) handles the prosecution. As deeper their investigation goes, forces manifest bent on stopping both of them. Evidently, there is more story than than the shooting.

Loosely told, JACK REACHER could have been trimmed by at least twenty minutes. There were characters that were not needed (Sandy the hormonal confused teengaer could have been done without) and the narrative hangs too loose for me to keep track with all the facts of the case. For a police procedural and a whodunit thriller, the film fails to compel. Mostly it exists as an action vehicle for Cruise, who is cool and charismatic by the way as Reacher, but the film is disposable in Cruise's entire filmography. 

It's a film confused if it wants to be melodramatic, full-tilt action, James Patterson-ish, or action-comedy. Nevertheless, for a year-opener after a string of local films that blocked the entire Holiday season (I only saw two films out of the eight entries by the way), JACK REACHER is decent enough. Christopher McQuarrie in his career has written some of the most compelling thrillers ever put on film (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, VALKYRIE), but as a director he may yet have to prove himself. (I'll have to watch THE WAY OF THE GUN)



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