BY CLAIRE WARD-BEVERIDGE
I had no knowledge of Jack Reacher until I saw a trailer several weeks back while seeing something else at a theatre. I remember laughing with a friend about it (“Here we go, another Tom Cruise vanity project!”) and thinking that it could be fun to see, but mostly fairly ridiculous. As odd as Tom Cruise seems to be as a person, and as schmaltzy and mainstream his film choices, there’s always been something about him that intrigues me. Perhaps it’s the one great role that he had, as Frank in Magnolia. But I think it’s something else. There’s this very sort of earnest conviction that he brings to a film – whether he’s performing well or not, he really seems to give a shit about acting.
A little while after I saw the trailer for Jack Reacher, I was talking to my mom about my upcoming viewing/review and she mentioned that my aunt was really into the books. I had no idea there were any. Apparently, they make up quite the catalogue and have a devoted following, one that seems to be fairly mystified as to Cruise being cast as the protagonist. The character, Jack Reacher (an ex-military man with no fixed address, one outfit and no personal items — save for a cheap toothbrush) is described in the novels as being 6’5” and around 250 lbs, and it’s fairly common knowledge how diminutive Cruise is. However, as Hollywood’s highest paid actor, a producer and a canonical action star, there’s nothing that a little trick photography and shoe-lifts won’t fix.
Yesterday, I made the trek out to the new Guelph Galaxy Cinemas to see a matinée of Jack Reacher with my 13-year-old brother. He had no previous knowledge of the novels or the plot, and hadn’t even seen a trailer. He thoroughly enjoyed it: “It was… yeah, it was good! Good action. I liked it.” I, on the other hand, didn’t leave with quite the same impression. Honestly, there were aspects of it that I enjoyed. For one, Caleb Deschanel’s cinematography, filled with gritty macro shots of evidence and Reacher’s bodily scarring, as well as some fairly effective flashback sequences, give the film a bit of a rougher, bristly feel. The sparseness of the soundtrack is really interesting as well. Many of the major fight/action sequences contain Foley only. The visuals and soundtrack aside, there’s a lot lacking in terms of pacing, acting and the script, even with the allegedly strong source material
Rosamund Pike as the rebellious D.A.’s daughter and the accused man’s lawyer is all wide-eyed seriousness and somehow makes her character seem more appropriate for primetime law television than a big budget action/thriller. I think it’s her weirdly husky faux American accent. Aside from her, her father (Richard Jenkins) and a charming, gun-toting codger (Robert Duvall), the only player I recognized (and was thrilled about this, from the moment I saw the trailer) was the Bavarian dystopian himself, Werner Herzog, as one of the villainous leaders. He’s fun to watch, but him, along with Duvall, are both so over-the-top and distinguishable that they draw attention to the blandness of their surroundings. And Cruise took his character’s Man With No Name-esque anonymity and facelessness a bit too far into drab territory. Reacher seems bored half the time.
Suffice it to say, the film isn’t really worth seeing or at least paying to see, unless you’re a massive Tom Cruise fan or have the forethought to sneak in a flask of whiskey to make the experience somewhat enjoyable.
Claire Ward-Beveridge is a freelance writer & photographer who lives in North Parkdale, Toronto and her rattled brain. She loves Werner Herzog and depressing English dramas. Follow her @clairewarb.