- on Friday, 14 December 2012 23:59
- by Frank Wilkins
From the pages of bestselling author Lee Childs’ novels, comes a new movie hero. His name is Jack Reacher, and while he doesn’t fly, wear tights, or posses any otherworldy super-human powers, his goals are the same as those sought by our lycra-tighted friends currently tearing up the worldwide box office: to deliver what we all secretly desire - justice.
Those familiar with Childs’ writings have been waiting with youthful giddiness since learning the ninth book in the Reacher series, titled One Shot, would get the big screen treatment, even though that excitement was tempered a bit when word initially came out that the 6’5” 250-pound ex-military investigator was to be portrayed by Tom Cruise who comes in at just a hair over a buck-fifty. No worries though. With Christopher McQuarrie at the helm, and Cruise in the driver’s seat as both star and producer, the series is in good hands. Jack Reacher is a bad-ass throwback, in both style and tone, to the he-man, classic car-chase films of the ‘70s like Bullitt and The French Connection.
As the film opens, we watch a sniper arrive in a parking garage, carefully assemble a rifle, and begin firing ear-piercing shots at what appears to be a series of random victims. The scene is equal parts chilling and fascinating as we watch, through the magnified crosshairs of a scope, the methodical traces of the killer who seems to have thought of everything - except for the quarter he slid into the parking meter that bears the thumbprint of James Barr (Joseph Sicker), a highly-trained former military sniper. Soon, the police are on Barr’s trail, but when arrested, rather than sign a forced confession that will all but ensure the death penalty sought by District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins) and lead police investigator Emerson (David Oyelowo), Barr scribbles “GET JACK REACHER.”
Before Rodin and Emerson can even begin to determine who Jack Reacher is, or if he even exists, Reacher (Tom Cruise) is on the way. Ex-military investigator, noble loner, ghost, Reacher is an analog guy in a digital world. Living off the grid by paying for everything with cash, carrying no cell phone, and having in his possession only the clothes on his back, Reacher rides into the story like a legendary, myth-based character. He’s Kung Fu’s Kwai Chang Cain, the high-principled guy who, for some reason, has been banished to wander the land only to appear when good deeds are needed.
A significant challenge for McQuarrie, who also wrote the screenplay, is the fact that Reacher’s character from the books has no real arc. He doesn’t go on a journey, exiting the other side having learned a grand lesson, nor does he seem to care too much about needing proof or following the law. Reacher’s only concern is doing what’s right. So begins an extraordinary pursuit for the truth which, as Reacher soon learns, is not what it appears.
In spite of his dissimilarity with the physical attributes of his character, Cruise plays his Reacher with a cool charisma that only he could do, projecting the vibe of a loner comfortable in his own skin, self-assured and very in tune with his environment. It also doesn’t hurt that Cruise performs his own driving stunts in the film, lending a refreshing intimacy to the thrilling car scenes fueled by the one thing that made those classic chase sequences of yesteryear work so well: speed. No tricks, no cheat angles, or fast cutting. Just drivers that drive fast and engines that roar with chest-thumping realism.
Rosamund Pike steps in nicely as the public defender tasked with getting to the bottom of the crimes, and Robert Duvall never disappoints with his brief screen time as a backporch-witted gun range owner who becomes an integral cog in the messy investigation.
But most welcomed - and sadly, mostly under-utilized - is a turn by documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog as the film’s shadowy, morally bankrupt character called “The Zec.” McQuarrie’s stroke of casting genius is almost totally offset by his failure to include more of Herzog’s milk-eyed, heavily-accented character who turns out to be a significant player at the center of a criminal conspiracy. Just a single glance at his squinty evil sends shivers down the spine. Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh has nothing on this guy.
McQuarrie is the Academy Award winning writer of 1995’s much-heralded The Usual Suspects and 2008‘s under-appreciated Valkyrie. And with The Way of the Gun (2000) and now Jack Reacher under his belt as director, McQuarrie is positioned to become the new go-to guy for action films with rumors of his helming the upcoming Mission Impossible 5. If Jack Reacher indicates the level of the McQuarrie/Cruise collaborative potential, both series are in perfectly capable hands.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material.
Runtime: 130 mins.
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise; Richard Jenkins; Rosamund Pike; David Oyelowo; Werner Herzog
Genre: Action | Thriller | Crime
Tagline: The law has limits. He does not.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You think I'm a hero? I am not a hero. And if you're smart, that scares you. Because I have nothing to lose."
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site: www.jackreachermovie.com
Release Date: December 21, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: May 7, 2013.
Synopsis: When a gunman takes five lives with six shots, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. On interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: "Get Jack Reacher!" So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Jack Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence and a secret to keep.
Available on Blu-ray - May 7, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region-free
Paramount’s 1080p/AVC High Definition transfer looks fantastic. The highest possible level of detail is captured and presented by the stellar encode. Jack Reacher contains a solid filmic look throughout the piece. The image is clear and crisp, without any need for edge enhancement; maintaining a fine layer of grain without any signs of unruly DNR. Colors are rich and broad, offering natural skin tones, bright and vibrant splashes of color – like the red 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS muscle car – and strong, deep and inky black levels, allowing for excellent shadowing without any loss of shadow detail. The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is equally as solid.
- Rejoice! A solid and informative commentary track from Paramount! Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie and Cruise team up for an interesting and informative full-length Audio Commentary which packs a great deal into the fairly long runtime.
- The second commentary is provided by Composer Joe Kraemer but it’s pretty much an isolated music score with the occasional comment from him. Interesting but not a “must” listening experience.
There’s more than I expected from the studio. Are they quality? Well, yes and no. I guess we should just be happy they are provided and keep our fingers crossed that there will be another Jack Reacher in the near future. Things get started with a proper making-of featurette that discusses the adaptation, the choice of the star, and other behind-the-scenes reveals. The fight scenes are discussed in another and so is the popularity of the character in the final featurette.
- When the Man Comes Around (30 min)
- You Do Not Mess With Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons (10 min)
- The Reacher Phenomenon (12 min)