As awesome as movie marketing often is (Cloverfield anyone? Or The Dark Knight?!), sometimes it can really misguide potential viewers. Marketing can ruin the originality and clever nature of a movie i.e. The Cabin in the Woods (which is brilliant by the way, BUT DO NOT WATCH ANY TRAILERS OR READ ANY REVIEWS/SYNOPSES PRIOR TO VIEWING!) or it can just present the movie in a false light and deter many from going to see it because they don’t like the kind of film that the marketing has shown it to be. Jack Reacher is a victim of the latter, with many I have spoken with saying they have no interest in seeing it as they are not fans of over the top, explosion filled action movies. But here’s the kicker you fools: Jack Reacher is NOT an over the top, explosion filled action movie! It is actually a crime/mystery story with really only one or two scenes that come close to being “action” scenes. But it’s ok fool-who-judged-too-soon, for it isn’t really your fault. Marketing is to blame.
Now Showing this week is Jack Reacher, directed by Christopher McQuarrie and starring Tom Cruise in the title role. Following the tragedy of five innocent people being killed by a sniper, the man arrested for the killings has only one request: “get Jack Reacher”. Shortly afterwards, the suspect is assaulted in police custody and falls into a coma. It is now that Jack Reacher, a cold, methodical, ex-military cop, shows up and it is now up to him and the suspect’s defense attorney to figure out why the killer wanted Jack Reacher and why he committed the crime.
See? Doesn’t sound like an action movie to me. Sounds more like a detective story. And what a detective story it is! For the most part, I loved the story-line of Jack Reacher (which is based off of the novel “One Shot” by Lee Child). It was engaging, thrilling and full of so many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming; which is exactly what every story needs! On top of that, the script itself was quite witty, especially the quips that come from Reacher himself. Reacher is an excellent character, a man who not only is disconnected enough to be able to approach the most horrific of circumstances objectively, but still human enough to have a true sense of right and wrong; and he is played wonderfully by Tom Cruise. People either love him or hate him (often the latter is due to Cruise personally, not Cruise as an actor), but I find his performances as an actor to be of good quality and his Jack Reacher is no exception.
I must say that I really enjoyed the cinematography in this film. I don’t often bring this up as usually films are made competently, so unless the film is wonderfully shot or horrifically shot I don’t feel the need to mention it. Jack Reacher‘s cinematography made some excellent use of blending past and present scenes together (as in Reacher examining a crime scene, and us seeing the crime happening as he interprets it), but my personal favourite touch was the way in which the sniping scenes were filmed. The introductory massacre was shot in such a way that the screen was taken up by a whole wide shot of a water front, but then in the centre of the screen was the scope of the rifle. The camera itself never moved, just the scope panning slightly across the screen as it would have done for the shooter. Couple this with a lack of soundtrack and just the shots and the shooter’s breathing, and it made for some very disturbing and very powerful viewing. That scene will stick with me for a long time.
But Jack Reacher is by no means perfect. There is a villain in the story who is totally superfluous, just coming across as the token European bad guy and played in a cliched monotone by German director Werner Herzog (random?!). There were a few character relationships that seemed very unbelievable, particularly between Reacher and some of the minor supporting cast. But I suppose my biggest beef with the film was that the final act did slowly start becoming the kind of action movie that all those people I mentioned in the introduction didn’t want to see. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good final act, but after all the clever mysteries and thrilling conspiracy theories, to suddenly have it turn into an 80’s action flick was a tad disappointing. Although it certainly wasn’t a deal breaker!
Bottom line, I recommend you check this movie out. If for nothing else but seeing an awesome main protagonist realised on the big screen. And with there being so many other books by Lee Child starring Jack Reacher, I hope we will see him again someday.
See you next time!