“A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims.”
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie, Rated: PG-13, 130 minutes

I am joined by Dan of Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews for a Double Team Review of Jack Reacher, the Tom Cruise action-flick based off of the book, One Shot, by Lee Child. 

N: So, what were your first thoughts after seeing Jack Reacher?

D: Just a fun-as-hell movie. Like it was stupid, that’s for sure, but definitely a lot more fun than I was actually expecting from the start. I think it’s the Tom Cruise charm. What about you?

N. Yeah, I really enjoyed it but could not get past a few plot points that seemed pretty stupid. Cruise proves again though (after turning 50!) that he’s still the world’s biggest action star.

D: I mean, yeah. He’s a nut-case in real life, and you definitely find it hard to get past the whole Scientology thing, but after a while, you just remember that the guy is a movie star and that’s what he’s best at. I heard there was a lot of problems with him being cast as Reacher, but after seeing it, I really don’t think anybody else could have taken that role and if so, I can’t think of them now. Could you think of anybody else?

N: Not really. I know that in the books, Reacher’s a 6”5 beast of a man and I know that was a lot of peoples’ concerns going in, but I don’t think the size of the character should ruin anything. Cruise kicks more ass than I’ve seen in a long time and I think Reacher could easily go up against Bourne, Bond, or even Batman (come detective skills). I really thought he nailed the role and he’s smart, brutal, and definitely the kind of guy you want in the role.

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Cruise also has the uncanny ability to find and use REAL payphones (he uses like.. six!)

D: Yeah, people forget that Tom Cruise can actually nail these types of roles and despite him being shorter than me (5”7, I believe), he still had me believe he could do half of the crap that he did like take on 5 guys at once. However, some of the other stuff was a little unbelievable, like the ending. I don’t want to go into any more detail about it, but I think you catch my drift where he has a stand-off with somebody with a gun and it’s a tad stupid.

N: Yeah, I thought about that and don’t know why he just didn’t shoot the guy. I haven’t read the books but I read somewhere that Reacher doesn’t like knives or anything, so I assumed shooting the dude would be the most logical sense. And the fist-fight wasn’t even that dramatic. But stuff like that I can ignore. What bugged me was the whole “set-up” of James Barr and that stupid quarter…

D: Oh I know! My bud that I was with kept on mentioning the fact that they continued to put the emphasis on the “quarter” and as obvious as that was, it was still pretty cool to see where Reacher went with it. It was more about the mystery and solving it rather than the action, even though the action did come up a whole bunch. You don’t really get that much with thrillers nowadays, you know?

N. Yeah, the film is a lot smarter than most action flicks these days and I think that’s why the quarter bugged me. Reacher is an insanely smart and observant man, and I think that the case should have been harder for the audience to solve, to give him that “oomph” in the wits department. That being said, the action scenes made up for any of the flaws and I have to say, Reacher features one of the best car chases I have ever seen in a movie.

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Seriously, this sequence is one of the few reasons you NEED to see this movie.

D: Oh my gosh! I’m so glad you mentioned that, because before that scene popped-up, I had to really take a leak. And I mean I REALLY had to drain the main vein, but as soon as that scene came, I was just floored (pun intended, I guess) to the seat and I couldn’t stop watching. It was a little stupid because he somehow was able to catch-up with these guys even when they got a 5 minute head-start in front of him, but it was still awesome and the highlight of the movie. Reminded me a lot of an old-school type of thriller like Bullitt or The French Connection, with Tom Cruise driving.

N: What made it even better is the fact that Cruise is the actual person behind the wheel (he did his own stunt driving), so you never doubt that he’s the hero. Also, Christopher McQuarrie and Caleb Deschanel’s camerawork during this chase is unbelievable. You feel like you’re right in the seat with Cruise and it’s really intense. Just adds more to the “throwback” feeling like Bullit and stuff. Cruise could easily give McQueen a run (or drive?) for his money.

D: Oh I think he could and I had no idea about the fact that was his own driving. Just goes to show you that Tom Cruise is hard-ass working-man when it comes to making movies. While we’re on the subject of McQuarrie, did you think he was as much of a random choice for this as I thought he was?

JACK REACHER

N: Well, the man knows how to write a script and wrote one of my favorites of all-time (in The Usual Suspects) and I know that he can handle a story. While I was disappointed in the actual script for Reacher (the dialogue was amazing, the mystery needed more work), I was shocked at how good McQuarrie was able to film the action sequences. He’s a guy that’s done one movie before this (some small indie flick) so seeing him tackle an action flick, let alone a Cruise movie, is really impressive. I hope he’s involved in the sequels. I really want more of this world and more of Jack Reacher.

D: Yeah, his other flick was Way of the Gun and as action-packed as that was, it definitely wasn’t a piece of original work like his script for Suspects was. However, he was very good with this subject material and although there was nothing really flashy, I still liked what he pulled-off. I look forward to more, however, I think once Cruise hits the ripe age of 60, it may be time for him to hang up the guns.

N: Another thing I really liked was the use of Pittsburgh. A lot of movies are filmed there for tax reasons, but with Reacher, we really got to explore the city. McQuarrie utilize the Steel Town really well and I felt that it wasn’t just jumping around from place to place, but all taking part in a real city. It just adds a little more depth to the movie. It’s also the perfect town to add even more “grit” to an already pulpy movie.

D: Yeah, I’ve been to Pitt a good couple of times and I have to say, the movie made it look exactly like it truly is: pretty shitty. I mean it’s a gritty and dark place to be in, but McQuarrie made it look even worse and I think that definitely added to the dark atmosphere we were transported in.

N: So we talked about Cruise. What did you think of his supporting cast + Rosamund Pike’s cleavage?

If only this was in 3D...

If only this was in 3D…

D: Oh god, Pike’s boobs! Well, she was good but those things were even better. I kid, I kid! No, she was definitely very solid and I thought her and Cruise had a really good back-and-forth going on there that didn’t fully translate into the type of relationship you would expect them to partake in. And everybody else was good, but Herzog seemed really, really cartoonish for a flick that seemed like it featured real characters and real situations, with a bit of goofiness. You know what i’m saying? I think it was the eye.

N: Yeah, I forgot he was in it until he showed up. And even then, it wasn’t anything memorable. His lackey (whose name I have no memory of) was a pretty decent villain, but the film lacked a true evil to go up against Cruise’s hero. As for Pike, I’m pleasantly surprised that someone of her unknown status was able to go neck-to-beck with Cruise. Their chemistry was ridiculous and they played off each other really well. She was never painted as the damsel in distress, too, which makes me appreciate the script a bit more. I also thought Richard Jenkins was good (in the small parts he is in) and the guy that played Barr also shined through those two scenes. And of course, Robert Duvall providing some veteran talent and humor to the film was amazing.

D: Herzog just seemed stupid, but his lackey was played by Jai Courtney, and he’s the guy who’s going to be playing John McClane’s son in the next Die Hard. I definitely look forward to seeing what he can do with that, mainly because he handled himself well, in terms of the intimidation-factor his character seemed to live and breathe off of. Duvall is always great to see but it made me a tad sad to see such an old guy, play such an old, goofy-like character but still, it’s Duvall and I think the guy just may have one last Oscar-win in him somewhere. As for Jenkins, this is pretty much the same role he played in Killing Them Softly, and that’s neither bad nor good. It’s just what he does best but I think he’s like DuVall, in the fact that he’s got an Oscar win coming-up for him somewhere along these lines.

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Courtney is a solid villain, but never given a full focus to be the ultimate baddie.

N: Yeah, he’s perfect at playing the genuine “every man” and I think he’s the most real. Is there anything else you think is worth discussing before we wrap up and give our scores?

D: No, I think we’ve just about said it all. Do you think it’s going to be a big winner for Cruise at the box-office? I think it will mainly because it has Cruise and it’s rated-PG-13, but stranger things have occurred.

N: Well, the box office results for the weekend are in, and Reacher only grossed about $16 million. I do think that the film has some legs to it though and I hope it makes enough money to warrant a sequel, because I really love the character.

D: Yeah, I do too but I also hope that they change-up the directors as they go through because who knows what type of different styles this material may garner over the years. Like Mission: Impossible, in a way, you know?

N: Definitely. I just hope that it doesn’t get a bad case of Die Hard, where the first film’s small and contained, with a lot of grit and pulp, then have the character go off saving the world. Reacher is best in a smaller environment. I don’t want him stopping nuclear disasters or anything, I want him solving murders and what not. It brings it home a lot more and I appreciate what directors can do with a smaller budget. I guess, wrapping up too, what are your final thoughts and what would you give the film on a scale of 0-10?
D: If you honestly don’t have anything better to do around this Holiday season and have already seen Django, have already seen Skyfall, and have already seen all of the other big-movies, definitely just give this a look and have a good time. It’s harmless fun, featuring everybody’s favorite Scientologist.  That’s why I give it an 8/10, which basically garners a morning showing, if you want to start the day off on the right foot. How about for you bro?

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Duvall’s eye is closed because he’s “saving his night vision”.

N: I think I appreciate what the film set out to do more than the actual final product. I love its throwback feeling and reminding us of how big a star Cruise is, but the plot and script needed more polishing. Either way, it’s fun. It’s a bit of a slow burner but when it gets going, it punches you in the gut and I love that. It’s far from being an instant classic but it’s a perfect introduction to a new action hero and I can’t wait for more. I’d give it a solid 7.5/10.

D: Also, I’m sorry to continue with this but I think it should be mentioned that if you are still feeling the sad effects from the Connecticut shootings, this movie may be a bit disturbing and hit too close to home for the first 30 minutes, but after a while, you’ll get used to it and just realize that all violent films are going to have violence in them. However, that totally is another discussion for another day my friend.

N: Yes, indeed. The opening murder with the sniper is ridiculously intense and really made me feel uncomfortable. Which is the point. It’s just creepy seeing it all through the scope of a sniper and having the camera move up and down with the shooter’s breaths.

The Good:
Cruise doing what he does so well, kicking ass and bringing the charm all to a film that features great action sequences and one of the best car chases in recent memory
The Bad:
a lot of stupid plot points that somewhat offend the audience’s intelligence and take a lot of mystery out of behind what’s going on
The Ugly:
Cruise is 50 years old- how many more of these does he have left in him? It’ll be a sad day once he has to retire from the action game

Nick’s Overall: 7.5/10

Dan’s Overall: 8.0/10

Trailer:

Written By Nick

Nick is a man obsessed with all things related to film. From the most obscure to the very popular, he’s seen it all and hopes to one day turn his obsession into a career that makes a lot of money so he can buy a monkey, a bulldog, and a full size Batman suit.


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