Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jack Reacher

Paramount released this adaptation of a Lee Child novel to underwhelming box office, probably because of its dull title (what the hell is a Jack Reacher?) and the miscasting of diminutive Tom Cruise as the title character, described by Child as close to six-and-a-half feet tall and a total badass with his fists or pretty much any weaponry.

Despite Cruise being unbelievable as a man who can kill with one punch, JACK REACHER is quite a good mystery, directed by Christopher McQuarrie (THE WAY OF THE GUN) in a lean, tough manner.

Reacher is a nomad, a former military policeman who lives off the grid with his only possessions literally the clothes he’s wearing. An ex-Army sniper named James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is accused of shooting five random victims from a parking garage near Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, and the district attorney (THE VISITOR's Richard Jenkins) and the detective (David Oyelowo) investigating the case are convinced it’s a slamdunk. So is the idealistic attorney defending Barr, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), the D.A.’s daughter, until Reacher starts poking his nose into the case and discovers a conspiracy involving an elderly Russian supercriminal called The Zec (FITZCARRALDO director Werner Herzog).

As the screenwriter, McQuarrie (an Oscar winner for THE USUAL SUSPECTS) does a good job adapting Child’s ONE SHOT (such a better title), except for a few unnecessary scenes that bloat the running time to 130 minutes (Helen visiting one shooting victim’s family adds nothing to the drama, for instance). Mostly eschewing CGI and fancy editing trickery to cover for directorial shortcomings, as most contemporary directors do, McQuarrie shoots the action head-on with Cruise and the other actors up to the physical challenge. A mid-film car chase hits the spot, and Reacher’s final assault on The Zec’s base during a rainstorm is as thrilling as it is old-fashioned.

1 comment:

Grant said...

Even though I don't know the movie and even though I have nothing against him, I know what you mean about the casting of "diminutive Tom Cruise" as a character who started out very big physically. But I kind of doubt that it was only because of Cruise's star power. It seems like for every time Hollywood casts an "Ah-Nold" kind of actor in an action story, there are a hundred times it goes for an actor with an "Everyman" kind of build (or at the most, a "buff" one). In other words, they go overboard in the other direction. And the second idea gets just as trying as the first idea would have.