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"Jack Reacher" Review

I've never read any of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels - partially because the genre doesn't interest me and mostly because I don't know how to read - so I went into viewing the 2012 Tom Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher fairly cold beyond the controversy about his casting which I'll address below.

The movie opens with Jai Courtney parking in a Pittsburgh parking structure and ruthlessly gunning down five apparently random people across the river. Police investigation leads to the arrest of someone else entirely upon whom a tidy frame-up job has been placed. He has only one response to his interrogation - "Get Jack Reacher" - before he is beaten into a coma while in jail. Who is Jack Reacher? As the trailer hints, he's a former military policeman who is off the grid and doesn't get found. He strides into the police station and basically believes him to be guilty because he's done something like this before in Iraq, but the convenient pile of evidence convinces him that justice won't be done unless the actual killer is found. Along the way, various forces try to stop him by first attempting to beat him down, then framing him for another killing. But nothing stops Jack from fighting back.

Adapted from the novel One Shot and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (writer of The Usual Suspects) Jack Reacher is a fast-movie, occasionally surprisingly witty procedural with more flair than you'd expect from the material. The huge complaint about Cruise's casting is that the Reacher of the novels is described as "6'5" tall with a 50-inch chest and weighing between 220 and 250 pounds" (thanks Wikipedia!) which had many thinking Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be an obvious choice (though the book version has blue eyes and dirty-blond hair, too), but the diminutive Cruise. However, I think having a more mortal-sized Reacher works in this context because the thugs that gang up on him don't anticipate his being able to clobber them back whereas any sentient being attacking The Rock would know that it was probably a poor idea to start with.

The actual machinations of the caper are somewhat thin - really, it's about construction contracts? - and Rosamund Pike's wide-eyed agape performance as the lawyer defending the accused is dopey. But Cruise delivers the goods and the movie doesn't bog down in pretensions of significance. Movies like Jack Reacher are what cable TV was made for, so put the feet up and enjoy with little thought.

Score: 7/10. Catch it on cable.


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