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A bit more substance than most action movies
on December 29, 2012
Director Christopher McQuarrie won an Oscar for his screenplay on The Usual Suspects, and he also wrote the screenplay for Jack Reacher. If you have seen the trailer, you might think that the movie is a pure adrenalin rush in the same vein as Taken, but that's not exactly correct. There is plenty of action, but McQuarrie also gives his characters time to breathe, and we learn a little about the backgrounds of most of the major players.
The movie begins with someone shooting five apparently random strangers from long range with a rifle. This is shown in close-up. In fact, this movie has more close-ups than any I have ever seen. It includes facial shots, point-of-view shots, and objects. The camera angles are also interesting. Perhaps the intention was to place us right among the action?
A man is arrested for the shooting and asks for Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise). Unfortunately, Reacher is something of a mystery and nobody knows how to contact him. When he does eventually appear, it's on his terms. We learn that he was an investigator of sorts while in the army, and he's enlisted by Helen (Rosamund Pike), who is the lawyer representing the accused man. Reacher isn't sure he's even guilty.
I don't think that I should give away many more plot points, so I'll talk more generally about what you can expect. But I will say that the story is fairly predictable.
I'm not a big fan of Tom Cruise, but I think this is one of his best performances and I would put it up there with Collateral. At 50 years of age, he's still a convincing action star, and I believed that he had the skills to do what he does in the movie. McQuarrie also keeps some of the action scenes realistic and things don't always work out perfectly for the hero.
You'll see Reacher investigating the crime, and we are shown how some of his realizations come to pass. There's an enjoyable cameo from Robert Duvall, and nobody gives a truly bad performance in the entire movie.
Action fans will enjoy a few fight scenes, a car chase, and a big shootout, but there's a story present at all times. This isn't a movie without substance. Reacher is the only character who is given much to do. At times it seems as though everyone else is standing around waiting to see what happens.
Jack Reacher won't blow you away, but it's better than the standard genre offerings. I could easily see it spawning a sequel, and I would probably go and see it.