Jack Reacher didn’t start off well. Controversy erupted when it was announced that the actor who was cast for the titular big, hulking 6’5 military policeman was none other than Tom Cruise. Many fans cried out against this, saying he didn’t match the psychical attributes described in the books, and didn’t have the power for the role. Author Lee Child supported the decision, saying it would be impossible to find an actor suitable for the massive Reacher. Controversy came about again when the studio announced they were changing the name from One Shot (the name of the book) to simply Jack Reacher.
We all know how well films that only have a name as their title (Michael Clayton, Larry Crowne, John Carter, Alex Cross) have fared at the box office. True, it’s not as bad as the name change from The Avengers to Avengers Assemble, but it’s still a pretty poor title, as it gives you nothing as to what the film is about, and just isn’t exciting. Jack Reacher still could be good though, right? Unfortunately, no.
Tom Cruise is Jack Reacher, a ex-military cop who has disappeared off the grid and only being found if he wants to be found. Turn out, he does want to be found, as another ex-military cop, James Barr (Joseph Sikora) has been arrested for a mass sniper shooting. Barr asks for Reacher by name, which is a coincidence, since Reacher was already coming. The evidence points towards Barr being the shooter, but Reacher has doubts, and looks into it further, with the help of Barr’s defence lawyer Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike). Of course, the audience knows the outcome of all this because the opening scene literally shows us the outcome. The majority of the film is the characters catching up to what we already know.
The problem with Jack Reacher is that it’s bland. It’s painfully bland. This film does nothing new, and nothing different. It is one of the most by the numbers, mediocre thrillers I’ve ever seen. This is Contagion-level mediocrity. This is the hardest type of film to write a review on, because nothing stands out, nothing bears mentioning. The obvious reason for the late December release date is to capitalise on Cruise’s 2011 success, Mission: Impossible “ Ghost Protocol, but this film is not in the same ball park as that movie.
Cruise’s performance was worth being skeptical about. He seems to be confusing a cold and calculating personality with a non-existent one. The character is boring and you just don’t want to spend any time with him. Same can be said for the rest of the performances, with Richard Jenkins being the only bearable one, simply because he’s Richard Jenkins. Famed director Werner Herzog makes an appearance as the main villain, proving that he’s better suited at directing that acting. Rosamund Pike’s performance isn’t worth thinking about, as the only notable thing about it is it’s sheer lack of personality. That seems to be a running trend with this movie.
Jack Reacher is a cardboard cut out action thriller that has such a brazen lack of anything exciting that you can literally predict what is going to happen and what clichÃ©s and tropes they’re going to invoke. At the end, without spoiling anything, a character does something in order to initiate a fight, but what he does is better suited to something like The Expendables 2, a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, and doesn’t try to be anything more than it is. In fact, watching the trailers before this movie, I saw The Last Stand, Bullet to the Head, and A Good Day To Die Hard starring good ol’ Arnie, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis respectively.
There seems to be a fashion of moving away from straight faced, dark, and ‘gritty’ thrillers, moving into throwbacks to 80s action films, where investigation was for amateurs and nothing couldn’t be solved by either shooting at it, or blowing it up. Films like Commando, or Cobra, or even the franchise that started it all, Die Hard. Bring back the high octane action and massive explosions, but with the separation from things like Michael Bay film by them being a ton of fun to watch. Bring back the cheesy one liners. I’m looking forward to this new trend in action movie, just so movies like Jack Reacher and Alex Cross can go away, never to be seen again.