Sunday, May 5, 2013

Jack Reacher

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Or we can make a gay joke that involves Tom Cruise and the fact the word "reacher" is used in the title of this film.

Jack Reacher – 4 out of 5

I never heard of the character Jack Reacher until this film came out. Apparently there’s a book series about him out there but if the book doesn’t contain zombies, hobbits or have the words “star” and “wars” in the title there’s a very limited chance I even knew it existed.

The look of a man who is trying to ignore the abdominal pain his gas station
burrito is giving him.

Jack Reacher is about…well…Jack Reacher. After a former military sniper killed 5 people, wanderer and former Military Police officer Reacher (Tom Cruise) is called in to try and figure out why the sniper murdered these people and see if there was actually a pattern to the seemingly sans-pattern killing spree. A young defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) becomes obsessed with proving the innocence of the shooter after teaming with the wayward MP and Reacher quickly finds out there’s more to the mystery than just a soldier who snapped and popped off some shots into a crowd.

And Robert Duvall is in it!  Yes, Robert Duvall is the Great Uncle I've always wanted
but the retraining order he has says that's not going to happen.

Reacher is a tremendously entertaining film with great action, suspense and some terrific humor and gags thrown in along the way. Granted, the film does have its moments where it drags thanks to a very bad performance from one member of the cast but, for the rest of it, the film is fluid and moved terrifically. Even Cruise, an actor I don’t normally care for, really looked like a badass.

Also Richard Jenkins is in it and if there is a person in the world that doesn't
like him that is a person I don't want to know.

Tom Cruise is an actor I usually avoid because I don’t find him very convincing as an actor. While he isn't a bad actor per se, I’ve just have never seen him in a role where I’m actually seeing him as the part he’s playing. Usually when I see Cruise in a role, I only see Tom Cruise being that type of role, not playing it. For example, in the Mission: Impossible films he’s Tom Cruise being a spy, in The Last Samurai he’s Tom Cruise the samurai, in Top Gun he was Tom Cruise the fighter pilot and lover of homoerotic volleyball and in Cocktail he was Tom Cruise the gay bartender (he was gay in that film, right?). The problem that has always kept me away from watching a movie that had him in it was the fact I never saw him as the role he was cast in but, rather, just himself in the film. That all changed, however, when I saw Tropic Thunder.

This would be the obvious place for a Taken reference but screw that noise!

That film was the first time I saw Tom Cruise not as the man inserting himself into a project but saw him as the character he was playing and completely forgot it was the man who spends most of his time thinking that acting means sprinting as much as possible and using over one hundred different smiles. He wasn’t Tom Cruise the foul-mouth vomiting, jam dancing movie executive…he was Les Grossman, the foul-mouth vomiting, jam dancing movie executive. The same can be said in this film—wait, I don’t mean he played Les Grossman again (although I would not object to seeing him play that part again), I’m saying that he was Jack Reacher and not Tom Cruise as a badass former Military Police officer out to prove a man’s innocence while kicking ass and slamming steel in a amazing car chase. I still won’t call myself a Tom Cruise fan but he came off as a legitimate tough guy in this film and was very entertaining to watch.

"Wait, come back.  I want to tell you all about Lord Xenu and thetans."

Even cooler than Jack’s performance is the fact that my favorite director and the owner of the coolest voice this side of Christopher Walken; Werner Herzog, plays the shadowy villain pulling the strings on the entire event in question. Herzog isn’t a huge presence in the film but the scenes he does star in really have an impact as the legend is able to create a villain that can make you void your bowels with fear without even having to utter a single threat of bodily harm. While it would have been nice to see more of Herzog in the film (if only to hear his awesome voice), the small amount he did show up for was just enough to satisfy as well as make you desire more.

Seriously, Mr. Herzog, I would give you my entire life savings to have you
narrate my life.  That's right, an entire 13 dollars and 23 cents could be yours!

 The hardest thing (and the most harmful aspect of the film) to deal with in this movie is sitting through any scene that contains Rosamund Pike as the idealistic defense attorney. While most of the cast is filled with very talented people who do a great job with their characters—including Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall and Jai Courtney as a badass henchman to Herzog’s character—Pike does little with her character beyond whispering most of her lines and having crazy eyes for 90% of the film. She has two settings: Whisper her dialogue while having about as much energy as a heroin addict on a three week bender and being forced to run 6 miles a day and allowed no sleep in that time and whispering her lines a little louder during times of tension but only amp up the energy level 1/16th higher than what she plays the rest of the film.

Damn, I would rather look at Kristen Stewarts' "I smell festering human remains" face.

Aside from the fact she looks like she should star in some by-the-numbers medical drama about white privileged doctors who are too busy with their careers to find love on some broadcast network, Pike completely destroys all momentum the film gets going anytime she enters a scenes (possibly due to the fact she clearly can’t keep her eyelids from remaining impossibly open at all times). Her performance is so devoid of emotion and energy (and those crazy eyes creeped me the hell out) that she makes the film grating at points and incredibly hard to sit through.

Dammit, enough with the crazy eyes.  They aren't helping you act.

Pike’s aneurysm inducing performance aside, the rest of the film is saved by great performances, awesome action and some great humor thrown in here and there to break up any monotony that may start to build up. I also really enjoyed the dynamic camera work and shots director Christopher McQuarrie used in the film. The fluid camera work really helps sell the action as it moves smoothly towards and around the fight and chase sequences filling the film. Not to mention McQuarrie was able to use some unique shot compositions that added some creativity to the storytelling and also made a man who is basically slightly taller than a gnome look a little tougher than he is. Granted the film version of Jack Reacher isn’t the hulking linebacker he is in the books but McQuarrie really used some great shots to make Cruise look like an average looking tough guy—and he did it with nothing more than knowing how to properly shoot the man. Not to mention that McQuarrie did a great job at building the suspense and tension in the story, as well as using it as a prelude to the action about to take place.

I would make a joke about how Jai Courtney looks like a Sam Worthington clone but
have you seen Spartacus?  Jai Courtney is nothing like Worthington...for starters,
Courtney can act.

McQuarrie (with Pike’s momentum killing eyes aside) did a great job of building the suspense that takes place in the story thanks to a meticulous and methodical pace, along with very tight editing, that builds ever so perfectly. He took this same formula to scenes where action is about to occur and rewarded your lust for fighting, kicking and bone breaking after a pleasant build up of anticipation. It’s almost like foreplay and the sex is the fight scenes—wait, I probably shouldn’t use that comparison because things just got weird.

To make up for that odd sentence, here's the sweet backside of a car--
Dammit, I just made things weird again.

I won’t lie; I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Jack Reacher. I was surprised at how entertaining and face-punchingly exciting the action was (especially that car chase sequence, which was awesome! And the awesome factor is only stacked higher when you know Cruise did his own stunt driving) but I was more surprised how much I enjoyed an actor I normally don’t care for (and am sometimes frightened by thanks to Scientology). Pure and simple, the movie is a great action film that suffers very slightly by a really bad performance from crazy eyes but, when she’s not around, the film is just an incredibly fun experience.

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