Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Jack Reacher

1 January 2013 by Nicholas in Films

Jack Reacher, with Tom Cruise as the eponymous character, is the story of an ex military investigator who sets out to discover the truth of a seemingly open and shut case of a lunatic sniper. My mother will tell you that Tom Cruise is completely wrong for the role. Her may be. My problem is that the film isn’t particularly good.

Tom Cruise isn’t at his most photogenic here and does manage to do “concentrating.” The problem is the plot is slim: we know the sniper can’t have done it from the fact that the film fails if he has, the attack in the bar is essentially a power demonstration sequence and has no real tension, the kidnapping of the lawyer is perfunctory and demanded by the plot, her assertion that she has shown “compelling evidence” is completely undermined by her completely contradictory sentence immediately preceding it. But that isn’t the worst of it: the big reveal the film hinges on is both obvious and has no dramatic weight at all.

So, what we are left with is a perfunctory thriller devoid of tension. It doesn’t do anything particularly well, but it isn’t really excessively incompetent either. Cruise is suitably unlike-able  but doesn’t have the presence or strangeness that perhaps he might. As I understand Reacher, Chris Helmsworth might have been a much better fit, but he can’t handle not being eminently affable.

The film is also designed to serve as the start of a franchise. I can’t really see it succeeding. Reacher is a cypher and not particularly interesting. The strength of the film therefore is dependent on the other characters around him and their actions and situations. And the film itself is bloody boring. Reacher isn’t mysterious so much as boring, he has no wit and doesn’t really seem to have much in the way of an interesting past. The monologue explaining him is the single best thing about him in the film and his appearance at the end of it completely undermines it.

I think we’re meant to be witnessing the emergence of a determined, single minded anti hero in the mould of The Man With No Name. Unfortunately we’re left with something that seems to already be descending into the parody that Dirty Harry became and cut from far more similar cloth than anything more iconic or entertaining. It’s not the film is bad, but it is never good. And it certainly never actually achieves entertaining.