New Release: Jack Reacher
It's unusual for us to start with our scale, but Jack Reacher is a solid 3.5/5 stars film. However, I think should not have been made. Let me explain. I've never read the books, and have no idea what the eponymous character is supposed to look like or act like, so I have no problem with Tom Cruise playing this role. So that's not my problem with the film. I actually really, really liked the character of Jack Reacher - he's a retired military police detective with pretty exceptional deductive and reasoning abilities. He solved crimes for the military and then chose not to live "on the grid" and drifts about now. We don't get much more than that for his back story, but this is only the first of what was obviously supposed to be another franchise (and there are many books from which they could have drawn). Now he's been brought back to the real world, on behalf of a guy, Barr, who has been accused of killing 5 seemingly random people on a waterfront from a parking garage far away. The guy wants the police to bring in Jack Reacher on his behalf. The rest of the movie follows Reacher's attempt to figure out how and why this guy might have committed these crimes. He's helping Rosamund Pike (whom I adore), the attorney defending Barr. He works with the police, David Oyelowo, to examine the evidence, and the DA, Richard Jenkins, to understand what might be the bigger picture. Of course it all ends up being much bigger and more convoluted than I could possibly explain. Werner Herzog is the bad guy - and this is NOT a spoiler.
But back to my original statement that this movie should NOT have been made, and likely will never become a franchise. I think the character of Jack Reacher was one that could have become a long franchise - similar to Jack Ryan, they could have gone forward or backward in time with successive actors. However, I'm glad that it won't, if only because it might mean that they stop making movies where the main character is a man with a gun who kills a lot of innocent people. I know, the first response is that there are a lot of movies out right now with gun violence, why is this one different. Django Unchained is MUCH more violent than Jack Reacher, and many of the people are killed with guns. The difference is the tone - there is nothing realistic about either the violence or the bloodshed going on in Django - it's in another time, and bad people line up to be shot, and pretty much everyone gets what they deserve. In Jack Reacher we watch them fight to protect the rights of someone accused of shooting a group of innocent people. After a very, very cursory look at those people, they are forgotten and their deaths neither revenged, nor justified. They just become part of the reason we hate the bad guy at the end, but only in the abstract. As a society, if celebrating this kind of movie, and the violence it contains, is even a small part of what has driven people to commit crimes like this in real life, I think we have an obligation to not make these movies. There is so much more creativity available to us, that to choose limit our storytelling on film to other choices does not limit us as a people who value both freedom and free speech. ** Stepping off the soapbox. Thanks for reading.