Jack Reacher (2012) Review

As I write this review I am roughly seventy miles outside of Portland, Oregon on a crude pilgrimage to Astoria, land of the Goonies. The hour is late and the only meal I can remember eating in the last twenty-four hours is a handful of road meatloaf. I will do my best to complete this review professionally and under deadline.

I’m not sure what slimy rocks Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise were playing under when they happened upon a chucked copy of a Lee Child novel, but perhaps they might have spent more time beneath it before oozing free of the Hollywood bedrock to insult the common filth that pay to see them wriggle. Their book must have been dogeared indeed for it to be stripped of every mention that Jack Reacher is a 6’5” 250 pound stoic. Perhaps Cruise fancied himself tough enough to play the role and damn the sign that says YOU MUST BE THIS TALL TO INTIMIDATE, and I say bravo to that. It’s almost like Humphrey Bogart playing six-foot-snarky-inch detective Phillip Marlowe in The Big Sleep. The man was diminutive but dapper, and Cruise has played action heroes in the past.

Of course, we must make a distinction between tough guys and action heroes.

Keanu Reeves is not a tough guy. He’s no Charles Bronson. However, the pale faced Hawaiian made a formidable action hero as Neo in The Matrix. Similarly, Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in four (and counting) Mission: Impossible movies, a role he’s suited for. But action guys are different from tough guys. It’s the difference between John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Here’s what I mean. Can you imagine Tom Cruise saying, “You think I’m a hero? I’m a drifter with nothing to lose. …I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot.” Can you do it with a straight face?

Jack Reacher’s largest and leeriest flaw is its title role, the violently miscast Tom Cruise. The film goes out of its way again and again to show women giving Cruise the once over. When he is first introduced we see him in bed next to a beautiful ass in a thong. The lady is putting her bra back on. The symbolism is obvious: Jack Reacher likes boobs. Men cower in his presence. He can drive cars backwards. He can memorize the serial number of a rifle “cause [he’s] got nothing better to do.”

I can divulge nothing of the plot of this movie you couldn’t put together yourself, except for the fact that Robert Duvall and Werner Herzog are in this movie. Why? Tom Cruise likes boobs, that’s why. Or maybe he stole their grandchildren and threatened to feed them to his Thetans. I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. Basically Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a ghost protocol living somewhere they don’t need IDs or credit cards and drawing on a monthly military pension that’s enough for him to get boobs and leather jackets. Then a sniper shoots some people in a bit of staging that would be elegant were it not inconveniently prescient of the Sandy Hook tragedy. And then Jack Reacher uncovers a conspiracy and breaks some guys’ arms and kills all his witnesses.

I can’t speak for Lee Child’s novels, not having read them, but the film itself is about as awkward as a whale in an umbrella stand. Cruise can’t sell this brand of charming and his Jack Reacher fades in and out of credibility with no harm done to his enemies and allies. Everyone is afraid of Jack Reacher and his mystery-novel one-liners. Everyone is afraid of Tom Cruise. Everyone wants to make love to Jack Reacher. Everyone wants to make love to Tom Cruise. But only the ladies can, because Reacher loves the ladies. Except when he’s working. Even if he has his shirt off, that doesn’t mean Tom Cruise isn’t working. He is working so hard.

Closing Thoughts

As a final note, I would like to reach out to the readership for an answer to the question that has baffled critics across the internets. As Reacher is being chased by police, he jumps out of his car and lets it coast into an intersection. While the police converge on the car, Reacher inserts himself into a crowd on the sidewalk. The crowd then wordlessly hides him, with one man going so far as to give him his hat. Everyone then smiles as if they have achieved urban enlightenment. I have found no explanation for why the crowd does this for a man being chased by police. It cannot be because they, the filth, feel a kinship with Tom Cruise, because Tom Cruise punches the filth in the face. Perhaps it symbolizes that this is Tom Cruise’s world and we just live in it. Or perhaps it’s just stupid. I have consumed too much road meatloaf to taste the difference.

Based on One Shot by Lee Child

Jack Reacher (2012)
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Paramount Pictures
130 Minutes

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