Jack Reacher is a throwback movie. When I say that, I am not being facetious. It is a throwback action/crime thriller in he vein of The Fugitive and Patriot Games. It is the type of film we see rarely anymore; an action film that doesn’t play dumb or try to quick edit it’s way out of plot holes. This film is entirely NOT a Michael Bay type of action film. It has it’s moments of quiet introspection, but also knows when to apply the pressure and give us a good action scene.
When James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is arrested for the sniper-shootings of five people, he simply writes on a piece of paper ‘Get Jack Reacher’. He is then beaten into a coma when the police send him to county jail. Jack Reacher arrives on site under the assumption that Barr is guilty; Reacher investigated him in the Middle East. Reacher is there to kill him, not help him. While talking to Barr’s defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), he starts finding discrepancies and begins investigating whether Barr is the actual shooter or not. What seems to be an open and shut case quickly leads to more dangerous foes.
I absolutely loved Jack Reacher. It really is the type of action film we don’t see anymore. In this age of quick cuts and plot holes so big you could drive a dump truck through, this film does not treat you like an idiot with the newest, biggest explosions to mask the fact the film makes no sense. (I’m looking at you, The Dark Knight Rises. Yes, you were a good film, but you really made very little sense when you think about it.) This movie tells you exactly what is going on, and there are no crazy leaps of logic that make you scratch your head and wonder why he went to point A or point B. Sure, it holds your hand a little bit during the exposition, but I feel the filmmakers did that to show you that this was a well thought out movie and make sure that you knew how Reacher was following his leads and going from point A to point B.
Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (director of The Way of the Gun, screenwriter of The Usual Suspects), he directs with a steady hand and a confidence that few sophomore directors have. It doesn’t hurt to have talent like Tom Cruise (Rock of Ages, Top Gun), Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day, Wrath of the Titans), Richard Jenkins (The Cabin in the Woods, Let Me In), Robert Duvall (Open Range, The Road), and in a surprising villain role Werner Herzog (actor in What Dreams May Come, director of Rescue Dawn). One of the biggest surprises for me was Jai Courtney (Showtime’s Spartacus, the upcoming A Good Day to Die Hard). While his performance here wasn’t spectacular, he did show the charisma and charm necessary to act as Bruce Willis’ son in A Good Day to Die Hard.
There is one particular action scene I must call out in the film that was so utterly brilliant that I feel action fans will be talking about it for quite awhile. It is the car chase scene that you get a brief snippet of in the trailer below. Reacher is chasing the bad guys and the police are chasing him. What makes the scene so great is that the police are an afterthought to Reacher. He is so focused on catching the villains that the cops are nothing more than a nuisance that gets in his way. Of course, the police hinder him from catching the villains, but he does get away cleanly, simply, and quite humorously. While I cannot do justice to the scene in this review, this scene alone makes the film worth watching and actually elevates it above Michael Bay fare.
If you have been on the fence about seeing this film, I would highly recommend it. While the story itself has been done a dozen times before, the execution of said story is superb. The film doesn’t rely on it’s villain to carry the story. It is firmly focused on the character of Jack Reacher and his search for the truth. I could have used a little bit more of Werner Herzog’s character of The Zec, but in lieu of that we get plenty of Jai Courtney, who I feel is a star in the making.
*** out of ****
- JACK REACHER is a smart brutal suspense flick… just what I’d hope Christopher McQuarrie would make! (aintitcool.com)