See the poster and you can guess if “Jack Reacher” is an action film. Or, is it? As it was adapted from a mystery/thriller novel titled “One Shot” by Lee Child, “Jack Reacher” is not a pure action film. Maybe it’s not an action film at all, because it is more talky and brainy instead of being an adrenaline-booster. It’s more to be, if I could say, a half-hearted blend of detective-styled mystery and bad-ass single-character-ed action. Moreover, knowing that it was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie who wrote the incredible “The Usual Suspect” is kind of surprising for me and proving that this guy need a finger snap to be wide awake again.
“Jack Reacher” is about, you don’t say, Jack Reacher. Jack Reacher (played by Tom Cruise) is a lone, nomadic ex-military investigator that went back to USA after a shooting incident took place. Five persons were shot dead by an expert shooter. James Barr (played by Joseph Sikora), Jack’s old friend, was the only person accused as the culprit, but he claimed he’s innocent and asked the officers to call Jack Reacher to help him out. Then, together with Barr’s lawyer, Helen Rodin (played by Rosamund Pike), Jack Reacher explored the situation using his old experience and revealed the truth.
"You think I'm a hero?" - Jack Reacher
The story was promising and, particularly, surprising. If you see it in brief, you’ll find that the story was perfectly structured into a good detective story. It potentially became a hit if McQuarrie adapted it smoothly. Unfortunately, he didn’t. He tended to lengthen unnecessary parts. Well I was expecting that that part, which took a significant amount of duration, had a good deal to the ending, like the part when Jack was approached by five guys who wanted to fight him outside a bar, or when Cash (played by Robert Duvall) tested Jack to shoot in the shooting field. But finally it didn't have anything to do greatly for the ending. It's just there for the sake of entertaining viewers with seemingly humorous, talky dialogue which tried to bring deeper introduction to how cool Jack Reacher really was (and it failed!). It's one main flaw, I think, in such a detective story which supposedly tried to tell viewers that every seemingly uninteresting, unimportant thing was a clue to reveal the whole mystery. That's why I said "Jack Reacher" didn't successfully accomplish to mix a full-of-curiosity detective story with such a hero leading character it had. Well the smarty, out-of-the-box dialogue was impressive (and the ending itself was a nice success, too), but there's just not enough motive for all that. We weren't just enough told about, like, who the hell Jack Reacher was so he could be that superhuman, or how Helen could be so attached and trusting such an unknown person like Jack.
And while it might because of the shallow characterization, it could also because of dull performances by the leading characters. Tom Cruise, I'm sorry, was just too plain portraying such a powerful, probably charismatic hero like Jack Reacher (and possibly he was just too aged to do it by showing off his bare chest :p). He was... maybe too stereotypical as an always-protagonist character, so when the plot tried to play with the possibility of him being either the angel or the devil, viewers could easily tell in which side he would be on (even the title of the film could tell!). Other players like Helen, Barr, Emerson (played by David Oyelowo), and Rodin (played by Richard Jenkins) were good targets for this who-was-actually-what game, but finally, they were predictable. Sorry. It's like there is no intention of the script to move its focus to other supporting characters: it's all about Jack and Helen, although they didn't build enough chemistry. Robert Duvall as Cash probably the one who could almost nail it with his slang, funnily sarcastic old man character, and he was the one that quite successfully brought the cheers around the last duration. I don't know; maybe I was fed up with too much detective stories and films so I could easily tell which characters were what, or maybe they all weren't so two-faced enough to trick viewers with such a whodunit game. It's so regretted that the whole plot, which I think had a nice structure and good potential to thrill viewers, was destructed by lame characterization of even the leading character itself.
Maybe if you could just push it away and enjoy the film as what it is, "Jack Reacher" would thrill you, but it's just hard for me not to concern it. Well, I couldn't just easily be blindly informed that this Jack Reacher was a real superhero with no clear background (even with no superhero costumes) who came from nowhere, could I? Well it could just be my problem, but I doubt that it won't be your problems, too. So shameful that such a good structure of this mystery-revealing full-of-curiosity detective story had to sacrifice its power for the sake of its characters.
▲ Good structure of detective-styled mystery
▼ Shallow characterization
JACK REACHER | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2012 RATING Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material RUNTIME 130 min GENRE Action, Crime, Thriller CAST Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall WRITER Lee Child (book), Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay) DIRECTOR Christopher McQuarrie IMDB RATING 7.3/10 (to date) METACRITIC 49/100 (Mixed or average reviews) (to date) ROTTEN TOMATOES 61% (to date) MORE INFO