5.6 out of 10
‘Jack Reacher’ is based on a book series and it resembles a lot of other films based on similar books. We’ve seen this plot before. We’ve seen these twists before. We’ve seen these characters before. Does that mean it’s a horrible film? No. There’s a reason authors keep going back to these characters and stories: they work and are entertaining. ‘Reacher’ is also guilty of deceptive marketing, showing an action thrill ride when the movie is anything but. This is about as average a film as you are going to get from Tom Cruise. He rarely stars in anything bad, but this one is certainly not great.
‘Jack Reacher’ is average and you’ve seen it all before. Save your theater money and rent this one.
Any spoilers will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you so choose.
Jack Reacher opens in Baltimore on December 21, 2012.
There is a reason why so many authors use stories and characters like the ones in Jack Reacher. People enjoy them. And there is nothing wrong with that. But, since ‘Reacher’ is now the 4,824th film like this it is not going to get a stellar rating.
However, since we are still in ‘The Good’ section, let’s be clear about why the film did not receive a horrible rating. ‘Reacher’ is still an entertaining film. The story is still engaging and Tom Cruise is still great at what he does.
The fight scenes and chase scenes are well done. At my screening Tom Cruise had a prerecorded message before the film stating that the filmmakers made sure there was no CGI in those scenes. It is clear that this is true because most of them are shot with a slower, more deliberate pace. This I loved. Too often nowadays filmmakers try to get too fancy and the action scenes go by in a blur. Just think about many of the fight scenes in comic book movies or the ‘Bourne’ franchise; almost impossible to make out the details. It is very refreshing to see every punch, every spin of the car and every clever moment.
There are a number of great one-liners and bits of funny dialogue.
Obviously, the biggest knock against this film is the unoriginality. The story feels like it would be the ‘Lite’ version of a Tom Clancy or John Grisham novel. It has similar characters and a similar story, but lacks the usual punch those heavyweights pack. Without going into too much detail to make sure there are no spoilers, the film is basically a ‘who done it?’ with the ‘did he really do it?’ and the ‘Oh shoot, they may be on to us.’
I hate, hate, hate it when filmmakers market a film incorrectly. I mostly hate it because I think they do it on purpose. They knew if they showed bits and pieces of the plot and teased at some of the twists the audience would be like, “Hey, haven’t we seen all this before?” But, by filling a trailer with Tom Cruise action scenes and funny one-liners they trick us into thinking it will be an action movie. Let me be very clear, Jack Reacher is not an action movie. In fact, if you saw the trailer you saw all the action scenes. “She” doesn’t drive me crazy, Fine Young Cannibals, deceiving movie trailers do.
Since the film was rather light on the action and I certainly went in expecting a lot more, the film seemed really long. At about 135 minutes the movie’s lack of originality really slows the pacing down. Great stories, like those by Clancy and Grisham, can easily go two and a half hours and the audience won’t even notice. This time around I was staring at my watch.
The Bottom Line
Jack Reacher’s good acting, well done action scenes and funny dialogue are just not enough to outweigh the complete lack of originality. The movie got a slightly below average rating because it did just as many things wrong as it did right. That translates to a decent rental if you don’t spend much money on it. But, please do not spend theater money on this one. The surprising twists that should shock you can be seen from a mile away and the whole premise is just tired. Tom Cruise does a fine job with what he is given, but this film will quickly fade into the land of forgotten films and will go down as one of his weaker films. It’s the kind of movie that will make you go, “Oh yeah, Tom Cruise was in that,” 20 years from now when you are helping your child or grandchild with a film history report.