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'Jack Reacher' review

Tom Cruise: a little light for Jack Reacher
Tom Cruise: a little light for Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher


The new Tom Cruise actioner Jack Reacher is by no means a great movie, but it's a lot of fun. Sometimes bordering on the ridiculous, Jack Reacher reminded me of those over-the-top 80s action movies complete with zippy one-liners, a larger-than-life action hero, and plenty of bad guys getting blown away.

There was a certain poetry to the 80s action movie. Action Heroes didn't have to deal with pesky laws or a slow and inefficient legal system back then. Indeed, Action Heroes gave audiences the sweet satisfaction of a little vigilante justice (ie, evil villains usually got their comeuppance at the end of a very big gun).

This "retro actioner" style is exactly what is so fun about Jack Reacher. That's right, no weighty morality plays or philosophical musings bludgeon the thin plot of this thrilling pic, just lots of things gettin' blowed up.

Now if you looked at the rest of the film, like the fact that diminutive Cruise is playing a character originally meant to be 6'5 and 250 pounds, things kind of fall apart. But the shear audacity of Cruise trying to play an action hero of this caliber (80s style) is ballsy. This is a role better suited to the Sylvester Stallone's and Arnold Schwarzenegger's of the world, and it certainly stretched believability more than once when Cruise (as Reacher) took down bigger and rougher dudes with his bare hands.

Then there was the dialogue. Zippy one-liners aside, even the filler dialogue was too ridiculous to be ignored or excused. Jack Reacher got the better of everyone he met, physically and verbally, and that meant a movie that became tedious to listen to after a short while.

The story itself is a decent crime thriller, in which an ex-military guy is set up for a crime he didn't commit. There was an eerie (and quite unintentional) relevance to the first scene, in which a lone gunman begins shooting random people in a park. The man accused of the crime refuses to confess, and instead writes only three words: Get Jack Reacher.

Enter one of the largest and most over-the-top action heroes I've seen for a good two decades. Jack Reacher is a retired military cop who stops at nothing to find the truth and bring justice (his own kind, of course) to those in need. When his work is done, he disappears into the night with only a snappy one-liner to remember him by.

Based on a novel by Lee Child, Jack Reacher was a fun movie for all those reasons America loved the ridiculous action movies having their heyday in the 80s. As a modern movie critic, however, I must say that Jack Reacher isn't much more than a decently fun movie without a lot of merit. It's certainly worth a watch if there's nothing better out in the theaters, or it's a slow night, or if you're a huge fan of said actioners from yesteryear.