Saturday, December 22, 2012
Christopher McQuarrie wrote and directed Jack Reacher (he previously scripted the Cruise vehicle Valkyre), and received well earned bona fides for his Academy Award winning screenplay to The Usual Suspects, one of the best crime thrillers of the past two decades, that it seems like a letdown that he would even pursue a mystery tale with so little mystery in itself. A man is charged with the horrific and seemingly random shooting with a cavalcade of evidence point in his direction-- he's directive is to "get Jack Reacher." Neither a friend or really an ally at least from the start, Cruise sashays into the scene, full of corny one-liners that may have been dated back in 40's era noir, and becomes the head investigator. Aided and goaded by junior defense attorney Helen (Rosamund Pike), a pretty lady with daddy issues, going head to head against her father (played by Richard Jenkins) and against popular opinion, as one presumes (except the audience, who has witnessed the opening sequence of Jack Reacher) this dude is guilty as sin.
The action, or story points as it goes, kick in, as Reacher begins his kicking butt stuff, with Cruise caught in a one versus five showdown. The trouble is, despite the faux tough guy dialogue and demeanor, Cruise still embodies the same angelic boy scout role he's played for years. Worse yet, the scene seems to reek of certain vanity as well. There's a few nice effects in the cool and icily filmed chiller (beautifully photographed by Caleb Deschanel) including a terrific (and nearly silent) chase scene part way through, a cleverly bent villain turn by Werner Herzog and a nice reunion of sorts between Cruise and his Days of Thunder co-star Robert DuVall, but Jack Reacher is mostly a meandering, easily reductive slice of junk food, strangely offered for holiday counter-programming.