Geek For E!

Review in the Round – “Jack Reacher”

Ever see a movie with a friend? Of course you have. Share your thoughts and see if you can come to a collective agreement on what you saw, how it flowed and how good or bad it was? Probably every weekend, right? We at Geek For E call that a ‘Review In The Round’ and this week it’s “Jack Reacher” with Rock & Alex.  Overall Rating: A-

Alex: Rock, here we are doing the review in the round once again. And this week we got to see the new Tom Cruise lead picture “Jack Reacher” based on the Lee Child novel “One Shot”. Having read the novel back in 2005 when it was first released, I was hoping that the transition from page to film would be seamless when word hit that a movie was being made based on the novel. Then the odd casting choice of Tom Cruise to play the title character of Jack Reacher was announced and I, like many fans of the series, were scratching our heads. In the novels, Reacher is 6 foot 5 and described as being a big and very muscular guy. In my mind Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson was the guy to play Jack Reacher on the big screen ala his character in “Walking Tall”. So I went into “Jack Reacher” really hoping that Tom Cruise could do the fans proud and bring this character to life. And I am very happy to say that not only did Tom Cruise bring Reacher to life he was able to humanize him in way that I had never imagined.

Rock: I confess, I haven’t read any of the novels.  Also, I am not a Cruise hater based on his personal antics.  I went in thinking/hoping he would be able to make a separation between characters he’s played in the past (ie secret agent Ethan Hunt), and he succeeded admirably.  ‘Jack Reacher’ is at its core is a murder-mystery.  A lone gunman, ex-sniper uses his high powered rifle to knock off 5 average citizens for no particular reason.  When the ex-sniper soldier is apprehended by police his only request is that they find Jack who reluctantly comes to town to help sort the mess out.  I liked the fact that he wasn’t a bulging 6-5 colossus like the book.  Some of the hand to hand fight scenes were more realistic because he was a smaller guy; had he been a hulking figure it wouldn’t be believable to think any of the stock bad guys had a chance.  What made ‘Reacher’ such a totally decent movie to me was in part due to Writer/Director McQuarrie (Usual Suspects).  I knew he would twist and warp the story as he did in his ‘Usual Suspects’ and that great ‘whodunit’ in Reacher was a delight to watch unfold on screen.  Smartly played, smartly written, even the palpable chemistry between Reacher and Helen his cohort (played sensually by Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day), and you will notice how easily she can drop her British accent?), was pleasant and titillating to watch.  Reacher the character is high witted, shockingly soft-hearted, and fully equipped to kick butt in the name of a good cause.  I will say that the opening of the film which sets the stage for the whole mystery was a little difficult to watch.  Following so closely on the heels of the real life tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut – this vital piece of the plot may not sit well with movie-going audiences.  What do you think about that?

Alex: I don’t think the opening will be too hard to watch for most. It is supposed to be a jarring opening sequence that grabs the attention of the audience. Is it too close to what happened in Connecticut? To me no but I can see where the parallel would be. If anything it reminded me more of what happened in Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland ten years ago with the DC Sniper. With that the mystery that unfolds is one that plays out nicely. Even having read the novel it was great seeing how everything unfolded.

The casting was also great as you have David Oyelow (and is it me or does he look like a young Sidney Poitier) playing Detective Emerson the strong and smart detective that helps crack the case of the sniper attack. Along with Robert Duvall as a long retired Marine and Richard Jenkins playing District Attorney Alex Rodin you get two very talented actors that help lend their weight into the seriousness of the movie. I will admit that I still don’t get why the guys at Aint It Cool get all crazy gaga over Werner Herzog but his portrayal as The Zec was an interesting take.

Rock:  Interesting you would add Herzog because the moment I heard his voice all I could think of was his narration/voice over in the cartoon series ‘The Boondocks.’  I loved his take as Zec the ex-prisoner though; quiet, ruthless, methodical even.  I think audiences will like this film but I worry about its box office revenue chances because of Cruise’s personal antics off screen.  That withstanding, ‘Jack Reacher’ is a solid enjoyable film all around and the cinematography for the muscle car chase scenes was incredible.  As a wrap up, I’ll also add what a joy it should be for movie audiences to watch this mystery and try and piece the clues together on their own.  Director McQuarrie’s writing (or in this case adaptation of writing) does such a great job of relaying the story, even when there’s limited dialogue.  I can’t recall the last film I’ve seen that showed as much and gave so much visually in the first 9 minutes without a single piece of dialogue.

Alex: McQuarrie did a stellar job taking what I think was the first three chapters and streamlining them down to about a 9 minute opening. Tom Cruise does have some box office draw again that has slowly been rising for a while now since the Oprah couch incident. I’m confident that “Jack Reacher” will be a big winner this weekend. Personally I wish they had kept the name of the novel for the name of the movie or even done it in a similar style to how the James Bond movies are set up in the credits, Tom Cruise is Jack Reacher in Lee Child’s ‘One Shot’. To me this makes more sense because when the inevitable sequel is announced, calling it “Jack Reacher 2” just sounds weird.

Final thoughts –
Alex: Came out of the movie liking it more than I thought I would and this is because of Tom Cruise. Giving “Jack Reacher” 3.5 out of 5 stars

Rock:  It was a great Cruise performance and a totally decent movie.  If it gets $150 million it’ll get a sequel, and something tells me they won’t call it Reacher 2 (weird, sounds like that Jack Slater franchise from Schwarzenegger’s ‘Last Action Hero’).  The movie had laughs, heart pounding jumps, sexual tension…what more can you ask for in a PG-13 thriller! B+


  1. Greatreviewguys! Now I can head out and see the film with no worries. I figured it was gonna be good, glad for confirmation!

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