Action movies usually arrive with lower expectations in my mind. I know the product I’m getting and that I must suspend my disbelief for a few hours as the unimaginable happens and heroes stand up and defy all odds. Never mind that Tom Cruise is supposed to play a 6’5” blonde army dude built like a brick house. Never mind that the main character apparently can survive the worst possible physical events and yet overpower and out-think everyone around him. Never mind that this whole movie is powered by a mysterious European figure that apparently needs no real back story other than surviving prison in order to properly run a construction monopoly. All in all, for Jack Reacher, this is a movie that cobbles together stereotypical action plots into a light, generic, if not entertaining, two hours that certainly does provide an escape for the average moviegoer but nothing more.
Tom Cruise is the title character of Jack Reacher, and he is a loner/drifter that moves from location to location without caring too much about leaving a mark behind. He’s been summoned to Pittsburgh where a sniper incident has occurred that has taken out several innocent lives. Naturally, there’s a deeper intrigue as the murder suspect is somehow related to Reacher and asked for him specifically. There are conspiracies abound and it’s up to Reacher to dig through the mess and arrive at a solution to all the problems.
And therein lies the major issue with the movie; it tries so hard to shoehorn coincidences and random events that are all related to reach other. If they concentrated a bit more on character development of anyone involved, perhaps the audience would care about said events. Trying to make sense of it all and how and why things are being done seems more just a way to get from point A to point B as opposed to providing purpose to the plot. It does not help that you feel you have seen this movie over and over again. The lawyer that he teams up with (Rosamund Pike) is battling the system and the odds in order to prove herself but for what reason? To prove her father, the DA trying the case of multiple sniper murders, incorrect or for actual justice itself? We don’t know because it’s never fleshed out. She just happens to be the person to help advance the plot and get kidnapped at the right moment to raise the stakes.
That’s not to say that the actors didn’t do a decent job themselves. Tom Cruise still proves he is charismatic to hold the audience’s attention but he does tend to test this theory a bit. I’m not going to say he was miscast in the role but stoicism doesn’t work well for him. He needs to yell and grab the audience with his emote outwardly as opposed to seethe within and give thousand mile stares. It’s not that he doesn’t do it well, but he just doesn’t give off enough to invest a franchise in this character. Richard Jenkins does what he can with his role, as does Rosamund Pike, but they really have nothing more to do than provide perspective on what is happening on the legal front. Jai Courtney does play a good villain but again, no real insight other than him brooding and playing trigger man to crazy head dude Warner Herzog, who looks as creepy as he comes off. But again, they are not given enough material other than a quick two minute explanation why he’s a survivor. Nothing really to do with the plot but alright, I get it, you look pretty evil so therefore, you must be evil. A commendable job to David Oyelowo, who plays the detective assigned to the case and basically attempt to match wits with Jack Reacher in the differences of approach to their job. Also to Robert Duvall, who could’ve just showed up to collect a paycheck but just comes off as badass and more memorable than most random cameos that happens in these action flicks.
I happen to like Christopher McQuarrie so I was genuinely surprised how generic this film came off. He does have his moments as the opening sniper massacre set piece was as horrific and haunting as it should be. Also, I love his dialogue. Whether from The Usual Suspects to The Way of the Gun, he always provides great back and forth with his characters. However, the script suffers from the fact that it never reaches to great heights and seems content on delivering action set pieces with sprinkles of plot advancement in order to get to the next step. Even then, one particular action piece involving two bumbling enforcers comes off more three stooges than anything and destroys the flow of the movie due to believability concerns.
It’s not a bad movie but with the cast and director/writer involved, I did expect at least something unique. However, Jack Reacher fails to be anything more than what it is; an average action movie that relies way too much on a movie star’s cred to deliver a product. You will be entertained but within minutes, you’ll probably forget what you just saw.