Jack Reacher is a well made suspense-thriller featuring a great performance from producer/star Tom Cruise and his supporting cast members. However, while the story starts off with incredible tension the ultimate motives by the villain came off as weak. Even so, this is an entertaining movie with great stunts and action scenes.
Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Crime
Paramount | PG13 – 130 min. – $39.99 | May 7, 2013
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer(s): Lee Child (book “One Shot”); Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay)
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Robert Duvall
Theatrical Release Date: December 21, 2012
Features: Commentaries, Featurettes, DVD Copy, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Disc Size: 40.8 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Tom Cruise has endured, some by his own actions, much vitriol from his stances on prescriptions drugs to his strong ties to Scientology, all really culminating back in 2005 with his infamous couch-jumping incident on “Oprah”. However, it seems to me that now 8 years later some of the deepest criticism is when it was announced he would be playing the title character in Jack Reacher based upon the novel One Shot by Lee Child. For those not in the know, the 5’7”/170 lbs frame wasn’t even in the ballpark of a Reacher character who was 6’5” and 250 lbs. But will this vast difference make a difference in how he portrays the character?
Jack Reacher begins with an overhead shot of a white van winding the Pittsburgh traffic before getting to a parking garage where a mysterious driver gets out with a sniper and patiently and methodically finds his targets and takes down 5 victims in 6 shots. The sniper leaves clues behind which lead detective Emerson (DAVID OYELOWO) puts together and a name is derived: James Barr (JOSEPH SIKORA). All the pieces seem to be in place: D.A. Alex Rodin (RICHARD JENKINS) has the evidence to not only convict Barr but get a death sentence as well. But even with the evidence and suspect in custody, Barr refuses to talk and only scribbles on a paper “GET JACK REACHER” and then clams up.
Emerson and Rodin attempt to do research on Reacher but come up with standard info that he was in the military and received numerous numbers of medals including the Purple Heart. They also find he’s a bit of a nomad not staying in one place too long. But when Jack Reacher (TOM CRUISE) sees the news of Barr’s arrest, he goes to Rodin and Emerson who assumed he and Barr were friends but they absolutely were not.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to Barr’s attorney Helen Rodin (ROSEMIND PIKE) who you might guess is the D.A.’s daughter, and the two have some deep-seeded animosity with one another, mostly on her end. Helen and Reacher have a meal where she tries to convince him to be her lead investigator, at which point Reacher can look at the evidence, and although resistant at first, he soon accepts though only to ensure Barr goes down as he once promised him. Through flashbacks, we discover while Barr was serving in Iraq, he had murdered four private contractors but as the victims were also dirty, Barr was never prosecuted with the military wanting it all to be swept under the rug.
And although Reacher is certain of Barr’s guilt, the more he digs, and the more he’s targeted by unknown forces – beginning being set-up for a beat down by a few guys, to which he quickly disposed of – the more he begins to think Barr himself might be innocent despite the strangely abundant amount of evidence. Reacher’s investigation leads to a strange conspiracy involving a vicious mobster (WERNER HERZOG) and his right-hand man (JAI COURTNEY).
Jack Reacher marks director Christopher McQuarrie’s sophomore effort in nearly 13 years following the crime-thriller, Way of the Gun and even though the plotline, when fully revealed came across as a lame TV movie, the direction itself was fast paced and effective. He also does a good job introducing a popular character and keeping the audience’s attention despite only introducing him about 10-15 minutes in following the killings and forensics/take-down montage.
Now, back to the controversial casting of Tom Cruise… For me, I’ve never read the Lee Child novels (18 thus far) and so my expectations for who would play the character never was a concern especially considering, at least in this story, his size didn’t play a factor with how the crime would be solved; just knowing he was Special Forces and could kick ass was enough to make it believable he could take on nearly anybody. This is something Cruise has been doing through most of his career, including the Mission: Impossible franchise and continues to do so here, though with I suppose an extra layer of development.
The supporting players were also well cast. Rosamund Pike thankfully doesn’t play the typical love interest and although she does get into the “damsel in distress” situation, she still plays the role with conviction yet vulnerability which gives her more depth; Richard Jenkins as a veteran actor is always reliable playing it up where the audience, and even his own daughter, doesn’t know which side he’s on; Werner Herzog, stepping away from directing duties, is great in a smaller but fun sinister role; David Oyelowo is a great relative newcomer now getting bigger/more important roles including 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and 2012’s Lincoln; Jai Courtney, most recently seen in the much lauded A Good Day to Die Hard, is effective has a ruthless killer; and finally Robert Duvall has a small but essential part.
All in all, Jack Reacher is a flawed movie, thanks to a relatively lame and simplistic villain motive, but Tom Cruise is in top form not merely playing the same character we’ve seen before from him. Yes, many fans of the “Reacher” novels will be disappointed but if you get over the physicality, an entertaining movie can be had.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
This release comes with a glossy slip cover. Inside is a barebones DVD Copy, an UltraViolet and regular Digital Copy download codes.
Audio Commentaries – The first track is with Actor/Producer Tom Cruise & Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie and the second with Composer Joe Kraimer. I’ll begin with that one by saying it’s not bad by any means but it is fairly dry, as it also serves as an isolated score track, especially if you’re not that interested in movie scores.
The other commentary is far livelier and if you’ve ever heard Cruise or McQuarrie on other tracks, you know that the two provide a good amount of information but also seemed to have a fun time while recording.
When the Man Comes Around (26:49; HD) is a well-rounded featurette tackling how the project came about from conception/adaptation, casting and going into the shooting of the picture. Through the interviews there’s some chat about how Tom Cruise wasn’t Reacher’s size and might not please fans but ultimately went with Cruise especially after getting author Lee Child’s stamp of approval.
You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons (10:27; HD) breaks down the brutal fight scenes and weaponry used in the movie.
The Reacher Phenomenon (11:10; HD) looks at the popularity the “Jack Reacher” novels have had of recent. Lee Child and others talk about what makes the character unique and differentiates from other novels.
VIDEO – 4.75/5
Paramount releases Jack Reacher on Blu-ray presented in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a sharp 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture quality here is great featuring precise detail levels throughout, a fine and balanced color array and is free of artifacting, pixilation or any other flaws. The picture in a word is pristine and makes for excellent reference material.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
Speaking of reference material, the disc also boasts a wonderful 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio track. This lossless track is so good because the movie itself has a wide range of audio from the quieter more dialogue-driven scenes to quiet suspense-filled scenes and finally, loud wham-bam sequences which help showcase the front and rear channels. Even though this is a new movie, having audio this dynamic is never a given but with Jack Reacher, you’ve got something to show off (albeit it’s down the list compared to, say, The Incredible Hulk).
OVERALL – 4.25/5
Overall, Jack Reacher is a well made suspense-thriller featuring a great performance from producer/star Tom Cruise and his supporting cast members. However, while the story starts off with incredible tension the ultimate motives by the villain came off as weak. Even so, this is an entertaining movie with great stunts and action scenes. The Blu-ray itself offers up amazing audio/video transfers and there’s a fair amount of features headlined by the star and director commentary.