MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington Wilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: Jack Reacher

JACK REACHER (Two and a Half Stars)
U.S.: Christopher McQuarrie, 2012

Jack Reacher, the new guns-blazing crime movie thriller, starring Tom Cruise as the seemingly invincible title hero, comes out at the worst possible time for a movie with a lot of firearms: in the aftermath of the Newton gun massacre. But it would be an obnoxious and often unlikable show in any case, in any time — just not such an obvious one.

In any case, violence begets box-office, or so Hollywood often seems to believe — and Jack Reacher is an almost ridiculously violent movie,  so ridiculous that if  writer-director Christopher McQuarrie had dreamed up better jokes, and more of them, he might have had one hell of a comedy. Based on “One Shot,“ one of a series of  crime novels by Lee Child about Reacher,  a 6’5’’ behemoth of an ex-military dude who lives under the radar, and emerges to solve crimes maybe just for the hell of it (or, in this case, to prove he was right in a previous case), the movie stars Tom in a role more appropriate for Liam Neeson  or Dwayne Johnson, The Artist Previously Known as The Rock. Except why should Neeson have to play  every 6’5” behemoth kicking the ass off dozens of bad guys and tearing apart another city? (Pittsburgh in this case.)

The movie starts with a bang — five or six bangs actually, as a sniper blasts five strangers from a parking lot across from Pittsburgh‘s baseball stadium. When the wrong sniper (Joseph Sikora as Bart) is arrested for this crime, he calls out for Reacher (who arrested him for another shooting during the Iraq War), and goes into a coma, Reacher shows up anyway, convinced that Bart is guilty,  and offers his investigative services to Bart’s attractive lawyer Helen Rodin, great great grand-daughter of the famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The talented Helen put herself through Stanford law school by sculpting and mass-marketing statues of  Arnold Schwarzenegger, thinking.

No, sorry. I meant to say that Helen is the daughter of the famous Pittsburgh D.A. “Rody” Rodin (Richard Jenkins).  Rodin is prosecuting Bart, and other mysterious characters are involved in some kind of conspiracy which will be revealed later. At that time, we will meet, to our astonishment,  a cold, glassy-eyed maniac of a crime and business czar named the Zec, played by the great German filmmaker Werner Herzog —  director, in better times, of Even Dwarfs Started Small, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, and The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser, or Every Man for Himself and God Against All. In this movie, the Zec earned his rep by chewing off the tops of his fingers to prevent death by frostbite and gangrene in Siberia (or somewhere like it) — which sounds like a scene in a Herzog movie, and probably tasted worse than the shoe Herzog had to eat after losing a bet to Errol Morris about Errol making his first movie. (Is that any less preposterous than the Rodin story?)

There’s also a car-chase — the old-fashioned, non-digital kind — and several fights, one in a parking lot, often with guns. And, at the end, Robert Duvall shows up as Cash, a salty old Marine and jocular gun salesman, who gets in on the fight just for the hell of it — or so it appeared.

I didn’t like the movie very much, and not necessarily because of the heinous massacre in Newtown that preceded it. It’s just not a very good movie, even though, to their credit, the filmmakers try almost everything. Cruise takes his shirt off (and Pike complains). McQuarrie, who  wrote very good, sharp, stylized  dialogue for The Usual Suspects, seems to have decided to crank out stylized mediocre dialogue for a while, and who can blame him?  Cruise plays Jack with a lot of charisma but no patented Cruise smiles — and who can blame him? He also tries hard to play 6’5″, but only manages 5’10,” perhaps because Herzog forgot to bring along his dwarfs.

There’s no denying that Jack Reacher is filmed fairly well, which means fast and slick. (Caleb Deschanel, who shot The Black Stallion, was the cinematographer.) There’s a lot of shooting and a lot of so-called funny macho lines, few of them very convincing or very funny. At the end, just for the hell of it, Zec’s sadistic henchman, Charlie (Jai Courtney) throw away their guns and go at it hand to hand, after which everybody picks up their guns again.

Anyway, Child has written  seventeen of these Reacher books, of which I have now resolved, as a result of watching this picture,  not to read any. If I break this vow, I will eat one of his books, or at least a corner of one of the pages, if Werner Herzog will agree to eat his other shoe. I wish I could resolve not to see any more movies made from Lee Child novels, but that’s part of my gig. You think I just do this for the hell of it?

 

\

5 Responses to “Wilmington on Movies: Jack Reacher”

  1. Luke says:

    Terrible writing. Reacher was a good flick. After reading your article it was obvious the movie was too intelligent for you. Try doing reviews for magic mike or other Channing tatum films you masterbate too.

  2. miguel Z says:

    Yet you praised the trivializing grotesquerie of Django Unchained. Reacher has interesting things to say about how events are constructed for the public. I can’t see how McQuarrie is made out to be so inept while other more famous celeb directors such as tarantino can do nothing less than create masterpieces for those in the critics establishment. Is there a contractual deal for no one but Armond White to think individually among movie writers?

  3. katie says:

    Being a big fan of Jack Reacher books I have to say that I was surprised at how well Tom Cruise pulled it off. Action packed and violent, but verylittle gore. Books are definitely better but I give the movie an A.

  4. Karina Ve says:

    The movie is NOT the book; and Cruise is NOT Jack Reacher. The plot of One Shot (and key characters) went missing from the opening scene and the gratuitous violence/car chase added in was an additional turn off. As much as I love the books (and Jack) I hated the movie. As a Reacher book addict, this movie was a travesty.

  5. Mary Pepper says:

    I agree that this movie is a travesty. The Jack Reacher series is well written and thought provoking which this film is not. I read several hundred books a year and know a well written book when I read it. I also know that I hate Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. UGH! I certainly hope they don’t consider Tom Cruise for another Reacher role again. It is a shame that you have not read any of his novels….

Wilmington

awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at scarab13.com. All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at scarab13.com. All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at scarab13.com. All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Film festivals, for those who don’t know, are not exactly the glitzy red carpet affairs you see on TV. Those do happen, but they’re a tiny part of the festival. The main part of any film festival are the thousands of people with festival passes hanging on lanyards beneath their anoraks, carrying brochures for movies you have never and will never hear of, desperately scrabbling to sell whatever movie it is to buyers from all over the world. Every hotel bar, every cafe, every restaurant is filled to the brim with these people, talking loudly about non-existent deals. The Brits are the worst because most of the British film industry, with a few honourable exceptions, are scam artists and chancers who move around from company to company failing to get anything good made and trying to cast Danny Dyer in anything that moves. I’m seeing guys here who I first met twenty years ago and who are still wearing the same clothes, doing the same job (albeit for a different company) and spinning the same line of bullshit about how THIS movie has Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or George Clooney attached and, whilst that last one didn’t work out, THIS ONE is going to be HUGE. As the day goes on, they start drinking and it all gets ugly and, well, that’s why I’m the guy walking through the Tiergarten with a camera taking pictures of frozen lakes and pretending this isn’t happening.

“Berlin is cool, though and I’ve been lucky to be doing meetings with some people who want to actually get things done. We’ll see what comes of it.”
~ Julian Simpson 

“The difference between poetry and prose, and why if you’re not acculturated to poetry, you might resist it: that page is frightening. Why is it not filled? The two categories of people who don’t feel that way are children and prisoners. So many prison poets; they see that gap and experience it differently. I’m for the gap!”
~ Poet Eileen Myles