Welcome to the first Geek Movie Review! Each year I have done a spate of movie reviews tied into Fantastic Fest, the super cool Austin genre film festival, but I’m going to expand that into my unsolicited opinions on other movies too.
I was planning to see Django Unchained tonight, which has a Rotten Tomatoes score so high it’s hard to believe it, given Quentin Tarantino’s long slow slide into self-indulgence. But it was sold out, so instead a friend and I saw Jack Reacher. My parents had seen it and enjoyed it, which isn’t necessarily a recommendation, but I wasn’t going to go see Les Mis with another guy, so…
Jack Reacher is serviceable, with some decent action scenes. Your parents will enjoy it; it’s like an episode of NCIS with a larger budget. I wish my first Geek Movie Review had a more stirring tagline to it, but I call them like I see them.
Tom Cruise plays Jack Reacher, a former US Army MP investigator now drifting around America playing a one-man A-Team. A sniper decides to perforate five people outside PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The local cops snatch up the obvious perpetrator based on a wealth of forensic information, and right before he is cornholed into a coma by the rest of the prison population he will only tell the cops “Get Jack Reacher.”
Needless to say, Jack shows up as if magically summoned, and wanders about like Colombo meets Jason Bourne to crack the case. Cruise does a decent job with the role, though sometimes he seems a little to smiley and upbeat for a role that might be better played down a bit more. He works with a juggy if not entirely convincing female defense attorney played by Rosamund Pike. She seems a bit lost in this movie, with “what am I supposed to be feeling here” written on her face in many scenes. “I’m being used as a human shield… Am I… Miffed? Mildly afraid? Slightly defiant? Not sure, I’ll just stare blankly.”
I don’t want to sound too negative, there’s some good bits in there – Robert Duvall as the gun range owner is great. Alexia Fast as the Pennsylvania Strumpet is fun… (What, IMDB tells me she’s the little girl from Fido?!? No way! OK, now I feel strangely conflicted about ogling her in her going-out-to-get-a-baby-daddy outfit.) And Cruise as Reacher has some pretty good lines; I like the scene where he escapes from a cop chase into a bunch of bystanders and they help hide him as a reflex. Yeah, that’s Pennsylvania for you, my grandparents lived there for many years and the country’s nice but the cities are pretty rough. And the bad guy is sure freaky as heck; Warner Herzog does a turn as anything but your usual guy behind the convoluted organized crime scheme; heck he’s even a bit too lurid to be a Bond villain.
The movie is based on a series of novels by Lee Child. There’s a couple lines, and the end scene, that make a half-hearted attempt to set up Jack as a super badass and jonesing for a sequel; that’s clearly not going to happen. They try to talk like he’s Mack Bolan: The Executioner but the PG-13 execution and smilin’ Cruise means that it really doesn’t come off that way.
I enjoyed Jack Reacher enough that I certainly don’t regret going, it was fine for an evening’s entertainment. Your parents, though, will love it.