At the Movies: Jack Reacher

If they gave out awards in the category of Worst Timing, then “Jack Reacher” would be a shoo-in to win.

The movie opens with a lone gunman taking a high-powered rifle into a parking garage, setting it up and looking at various people through the scope before he finally begins picking off people, one by one. One women he kills is carrying a small child.

Like I said — bad timing.

If current events have dissuaded you from watching a movie dealing with the aftermath of a mass shooting, no one would blame you. If you’re not bothered by the premise, then “Jack Reacher” is a pretty entertaining, old-school action-thriller.

Apparently the name Jack Reacher, like Alex Cross, is supposed to be well-known enough to cause excited reactions from certain people. I am not one of them. I’ve never read a Jack Reacher novel but according to Wikipedia there have been 17 books and a few short stories featuring the character, written by Lee Child.

Jack-Reacher-2012-Movie-Poster1-600x861In the novels Reacher is described as 6-foot, 5-inches with a 50-inch chest and dirty blonde hair, which made the casting of Tom Cruise in the role a bit controversial for die-hard Reacher fans. Indeed, your ability to enjoy the film may rest on how willing you are to see Cruise as a total badass. I think he pulls it off.

Reacher is a former military police officer in the U.S. Army. After many years of service he retired from the military, returned to the United States and promptly went off the grid. He has no credit cards or driver’s license. You don’t contact him, he contacts you.

James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a former army sharpshooter, is identified as the sniper and arrested. His only response to interrogation is “Get Jack Reacher.” District Attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) is just getting the lowdown on Reacher when he suddenly shows up at Rodin’s office.

Reacher had a previous run-in with Barr in the military and upon seeing his name in the news came out to investigate. It appears to be an open-and-shut case so the D.A. isn’t interested in Reacher’s assistance, but Rodin’s daughter Helen (Rosamund Pike) — who is representing Barr — needs all the help she can get.

As you might expect, the case turns out to be more complicated than it first appeared. Reacher’s investigation lands him in trouble with the law, in the crosshairs of a mysterious baddie known as The Zec (Werner Herzog), and in a world of hurt. But Reacher generally dishes out much more hurt than he takes.

“Jack Reacher” is a fun action movie that at times feel like it dropped in from the ’70s or ’80s. Reacher is a classic cool, clever tough guy who’s quick with a quip or a sock to the jaw. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie and based on Child’s novel “One Shot,” the movie is both gritty and stylish. The car chase is especially thrilling and comes to an amusing and satisfying end.

 

 

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