Sunday, November 6, 2016

Review: Jack Reacher (2012)

Yay, he's back!

New York Times Bestseller trash turns to gold under the right helmsman, and we live in an age where that is becoming increasingly common as long as your name isn't Ron Howard or Edward Zwick. Auteurs who used to scream "God is dead!" at us in the 90s now work for Apple and Taylor Swift. It's both good and awful.

Jack Reacher's story sets out to do nothing more than tell an easy-to-reckon mystery with a few zingers and thrills along the way. My relationship with the series of books doesn't extend beyond doing an awesome job shelving them at Borders, and knowing from my grandmother that Tom Cruise is all wrong for the title role because he is "too fucking short." The good news is that McQuarrie, in the 12 years he's been writing various cinematic failures, keep all of his tools sharp and ain't afraid to use any of them.

His objective touch works wonders on the film's few big action set pieces and they steal the movie away from fairly unremarkable genre trappings. Enough for most people should be the car chase in the center with absolutely NO music attached to it, just shifting of the gears and the roar of the engine, but the film shines in quieter moments as well (there is a scene at a shooting range with an added sense of impending dread, seemingly for very little reason). The film is bolstered by smaller decisions that, on paper, sound much better than they come across. Werner Herzog does a fine job as the Man at the Top, but can only do so much when confined by the material. In general, that's a pretty good rule for determining the quality of this film. Nice, not perfect.

Ultimately, Jack Reacher functions as a surprise in that it exceeds well beyond its own grasp, and as a sign of man breaking free of his One-and-Done status, I'd be a fool not to take it.

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