Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Jack Reacher

Film #446

THE PLOT

A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims.

Year 2, Film #81

THE REVIEW: Tom Cruise is an actor who has played the same role in the last few years, just in different characters. Much like with Liam Neeson who plays the guy who beats people up when they take his daughter, Tom Cruise is the smart ass with the witty comeback and can also mess people up pretty good. No matter how rote these characters become, both Cruise and Neeson are on my, “If they’re in it, I’ll see it list,” because above all else they can provide a solid two hours of entertainment. With Jack Reacher that is exactly the case. Two hours of action goodness with a bit of mystery and conspiracy thrown in just for kicks. It didn’t leave me blown away like some recent films have, but it kept me interested and alert the whole time.

Jack Reacher has enough star power to put it on cruise control for the entire film (wow, I really just made that joke). But in many ways that’s true. Tom Cruise (who plays the titular character) does what he does best which is entertain. He brings both comedy and humor as well as the action and drama. One of the funniest scenes in the film is when he’s approached by Sandy (Alexia Fast) at a local Pittsburgh bar. His reaction to her advances is funny enough to begin with, but the scene that follows show just why Cruise is so great at what he does. After accusing Sandy of being a hooker to which her “brothers” take offense, Jack Reacher takes the boys outside and warns them multiple times that they should think about what they’re doing. Even though it’s five against one (or rather three against one — watch the film for some wise insight into bar fights) Jack manages to beat the boys up until they can’t even move. Humor and action, back-to-back in a way that only Tom Cruise can do with such ease.

But cruise control (there I go again) isn’t enough to get this film to the end because there’s a few speed bumps along the way. One speed bump was the music. Most of the time, film music is just there and you don’t really pay attention to it. The effects of the score are most often subconscious and can either supplement or complement the actions taking place on screen. With Jack Reacher however, not only does the music stand out and make its presence known, but it also has the wrong feel to it as well. The main theme, which features low strings and low brass contrasted with a sharp, staccato rhythm from the violins give the film a very epic and grandiose feeling when Jack Reacher is about the opposite. Jack is a very secluded character who likes to keep to himself, as do the villains who want to keep all the attention away from them. Don’t get me wrong, I think the main theme sounds fantastic as a piece of music. But it doesn’t pair well with the film itself and therefore distracts you from it.

Another major speed bump is the structure of the film. While the film does build up some suspense by the end and manages to keep a few things secret, this film could have been so much more with some slight changes. First of all, for such a great opening sequence that sets things up perfectly, why do we have to see the face of the sniper. By seeing who the true sniper is, Charlie (Jai Courtney), we already care less about the fact that all the evidence points to James Barr (Joseph Sikora) because we know it’s a setup. Put us in the shoes of the investigators and Jack Reacher who begin with the assumption that Barr did it. That way, as you begin to discover new clues and reinterpret the evidence you already have, the setup is the mystery to solve. This way, you don’t know what exactly is going on in the first place (just that five people were killed and this man is about to be sentenced to death) and then you also have the mystery of why the villains set up Barr, and what Jack is going to do about it (not so much a surprise, but still an entertaining portion of the film). Second, by make a small change like this you can then avoid the slight repetition when you go through the story of what happen over and over again. Once with the initial act, again when the police arrive at the crime scene, again with the Defense Attorney and lawyers, and again with Jack Reacher. By changing the reveal to be later in the film, you would probably end up with more run-throughs of the evidence and what happened, but instead of not learning anything new with each go-around, this new way would uncover new pieces bit-by-bit reducing the feeling of repetition.

Jack Reacher does what it sets out to do which is to entertain. This film is two hours of laughter, action, and mystery with Tom Cruise leading the way and carrying the film on his shoulders. Some parts leave a little to be desired and take you out of the filmgoing experience from time-to-time, but overall once things get going, you’re in it to the end. I enjoyed Jack Reacher because I happen to like Tom Cruise action movies but I understand not everyone does. If you’re not a Cruise fan there probably isn’t much here to pique your interest in wanting to give it a watch. This is no Edge of Tomorrow where even if you don’t care for Cruise you’ll still walk away with your jaw dropped in amazement. You’re either going to find a decent amount of quality entertainment in Jack Reacher or you’re going to dismiss it without a second thought.

THE RATING: 3 out of 5