After some of his previous action efforts, you can almost feel Tom Cruise fighting back the yawns...
Jack Reacher: Tom Cruise Helen Rodin: Rosamund Pike Alex Rodin: Richard Jenkins Cash: Robert Duvall The Zec: Werner Herzog James Barr: Joseph Sikora Emerson: David Oyelowo Linsky: Michael-Raymond James Rob Farrior: James Martin Kelly Nancy Holt: Nicole Forester Sandy: Alexia Fast Charlie: Jai Courtney
Paramount Pictures presents a film written for the screen and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Based off the 2005 novel "One Shot" by Lee Child. Rated PG-13 for violence and some swearing. Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes Release Date: December 21, 2012
Exactly one year ago, Tom Cruise was climbing and kicking in the windows of the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, one of the better action movies of 2011. The movie did tremendously well at the box office, but maybe not in Pittsburgh where Cruise's new December offering, Jack Reacher takes place. If it did, someone could have let the five punks in the bar trying to pick a fight why it wasn't a good idea.
Even if Mission: Impossible doesn't exist in this universe, Jack Reacher (Cruise) has for a while. Based off the ninth of seventeen novels published by British author Lee Child, Reacher is established in the minds of at least some of the characters before ever stepping foot on screen. An army cop turned nomad, he isn't able to be found even by the District Attorney's office unless he wants to be. After a man in his past is arrested for killing five civilians with a sniper rifle, Reacher decides he wants to be found.
It doesn't take long for the District Attorney's daughter, Helen (Pike) - who has been assigned to defend the alleged sniper - to hire Reacher as her lead investigator, against her father's (Jenkins) wishes. Pike is able to hang with Cruise in his loner role, giving the two a repoire that helps keep Reacher afloat during many scenes which would fit in comfortably to a prime time television cop drama. A lot of the film's dialogue, however, had me feel like I was driving down a Midwestern highway just trying to pass the time with a book-on-tape.
Jack Reacher is an uneven film, amidst its extremely long establishing shots and even longer gaps between action scenes. A car chase towards the end feels forced, like the movie is aiming to be something it's not. And when there is action, there is hardly a scene where the film's villains are the least bit intimidating or appear to pose any sort of real threat. I've never read a book in the series, so I couldn't tell you why the ninth installment was selected for the motion picture. But there are still times where I felt Reacher had been through similar circumstances plenty of times unscathed. Of course, you expect the lead character of an action movie to win his fare share of battles, but when it seems effortless nearly every time, it can become boring.
That's not to say that Reacher is a total dud. There are several genuine laughs that come up, thanks in big part to an appearance late in the film from Robert Duvall. He and Rosamund Pike both do a great job of keeping up with Cruise's overconfidence and help to make the longer scenes go by a little more quickly. Some of the jokes and one-liners dip their toes into B-movie territory, but director Christopher McQuarrie never dives too far in. The film may have been better for it. (Some sadist out there would have loved Nicolas Cage as the title character.) In fact, McQuarrie hesitates to go too far in any one direction at any time. Some of the jokier scenes feel like they don't have a place in a movie with the raw violence this one has at times, and vice-versa. In the wake of the recent events in Connecticut, the scenes directly surrounding the sniper attack may be a bit uncomfortable.
Tom Cruise has been in better movies, and he's been in worse. It's hard to blame him and fans of his if there are scenes where they may be a little bored. No part of Jack Reacher even flirts with the danger of hanging off the edge of the world's tallest building. Reacher seems to be a character who doesn't have too much interest in a job before or after, just during. Cruise may have been doing the same here, just trying to find something to avoid reminding people that he now has an AARP card to go with his SAG one before Mission: Impossible 5 goes into production.
The 411: Jack Reacher is based off the ninth installment of a book series, and often times feels like it. Many of the films lulls may have you feel like you're just on a long road trip listening to a book on tape. Cruise is solid in the lead role, but he can sleepwalk through this type of movie. Despite good chemistry between he and Rosamund Pike and a good sense of humor, at a slow 2 hours, 10 minutes, Jack never reaches too far beyond being an uneven, extended episode of Law & Order.