When I saw Jack Reacher in the theaters, I couldn’t get past all of the things that were wrong with with Tom Cruise. He was too young, too polished, too short to be Reacher, the hero of Lee Child’s series of books about the ex-Army MP who drifts from town to town across America. I was thinking more along the lines of Mark Harmon, with the Army cut, the stern look, the more taciturn behavior. And sure, One Shot, is a good story, but why would you begin the franchise there?
But when the Blu-ray/UV/DVD Combo arrived, and I watched it again, knowing that it would be Cruise as Reacher, knowing that this was where it started… I relented. Sitting back and enjoying the movie, I recognized that Child’s story still shines and that Cruise IS Reacher, and that in addition to the entertainment value, there’s more to see here.
I will warn you that if the Boston Marathon tragedy or Sandy Hook shootings or the DC Sniper make you uncomfortable, then you shouldn’t see this film that begins with a sniper gunning down five people in front of PNC Park in Pittsburgh. In the wake of those tragedies, it’s almost as tough as hearing the real-life sounds from 9/11 played in the opening moments of Zero Dark Thirty. But out of this tragedy rides the heroic Reacher.
We see James Barr (Joseph Sikora) call for Reacher after being arrested for the murders, and find out that Reacher was the MP who went after Barr when he murdered before. We watch as Reacher reluctantly joins forces with D.A. Helen Rodin (Rosemund Pike), after forcing her to examine the lives of the victim to see if she really wants to represent Barr. But juxtaposed with that, we see the machinations of Werner Herzog’s The Zec, whose hired gun (Jai Courtney, A Good Day To Die Hard) is actually the sniper. We know what Reacher is up against (or do we?) before he does.
The film plays out like a whodunit, with Reacher unwinding the coil of string that begins with a gang of locals forcing a fight in the street and the trail to the gun range where Barr trained, run by a former Marine (Robert Duvall). The mystery is engaging, even when you’ve seen it before, but Reacher’s style, humor, violence, chivalry, and substance make it more entertaining than a by-the-numbers deals that we see every night on television.
If you haven’t read any of Child’s works before, then the adaptation of One Shot is an easy intro into who Reacher is. He cares more than you think (making Rodin interview victim’s families). He’s compassionate to those sucked into the vortex of evil (like giving the “bait” Sandy a break and telling her to get out of town). He’s smarter than the average investigator (knowing the serial number of the rifle). And he’s unafraid (basically the whole movie!) But his actions/violence are just. He’s like A-Team in that he represents the innocent (or at least the wronged) but he doesn’t seem keen on killing except in self-defense, making him more reasonable than Hunter. He’s an old school vigilante with a heart of gold.
Back full circle, I’m a fan of the film, and certainly of its protagonist, Jack Reacher. The film is hip, and fun, and exciting, and ultimately, brings justice for the people murdered in the beginning. We all want justice, but finding it without a spirit of vengeance and excessive violence is rare, as we move toward heroes and anti-heroes who shoot first and ask questions later. Jack Reacher is a rare find on Blu-ray/DVD in the middle of spring, and should tide you over nicely until you get to May’s action month!