I’ve seen JACK REACHER for about a month now. Just cleared the embargo stage so let’s hop right into it. Why should you give two shits about this film? Well, it is based on a series of books by Lee Child that has huge fans. Reacher is essentially the most badass Military Detective that there ever was. He found problems. That life is in the rearview and now he wanders the earth like Kane from Kung Fu having adventures. Now, there’s no Eastern philosophy. Jack Reacher is a bit more like John Rambo… except a whole lot more functional. Rambo’s zero to sixty is almost instantaneous. Jack Reacher has that kind of acceleration of violence, but he has a rather intense personal code. I’m pretty sure he belongs behind bars… but he’s kinda like the whole damn A-TEAM boiled into one very lethal Tom Cruise.
Reacher is probably a bit more talkative than his character in the book, but McQuarrie’s dialogue for Reacher is so choice. In fact if you watch Cruise’s Jack Reacher… efficient & precise describe his actions, dialogue and line of thought. Shortest distances. He keeps things explosive, even if they’re barbs of the verbal side.
You should not be surprised. This film is the second feature film directed by Christopher McQuarrie. The first is an intensely violent crime film called THE WAY OF THE GUN. McQuarrie is all kinds of sharp. He writes and directs like a clockwork mechanism. You always can look and marvel at the film as it comes together. It is deliberately clever & I really respond to that in a film like this.
JACK REACHER is an old school man with internally created way of life. He’s a man like The Outlaw Josey Wales. And that’s a very good film to conjure when talking about this movie. You’re talking ex-Military badass, never able to return home. Living day by day the way he lives. He’s a violent man. He stays off the clock, between the shadows. He uses the Greyhound bus system to travel. No ID checks, no tracking. You get the idea… trouble finds him… you also get the idea that people around him get hurt and he moves forward. Always forward. He doesn’t do anything that he can’t live with.
Now the bad guys in this are into political corruption, they’re part of the infection feeding on society, but that’s getting ahead of myself.
The film starts off with a sniper mass murder spree. Brutal and not glorified. It isn’t a cool scene… it’s an oddly familiar one. The kind of thing you wouldn’t be surprised to have explode into tomorrow’s media. They quickly capture the “guy” – he’s disenfranchised, ex-military… even had a history of this kind of thing. All the evidence points to him and there is an OVERWHELMING CASE against him. He says, GET JACK REACHER.
Like I said, this crime has the media circus swirling and even a transient badass like Reacher sees the news and he had sworn to this killer that… Well, that’d be telling too much. Rosamund Pike plays the lawyer defending the mass murderer against her DA Father. Things occur, Reacher begins helping the Defense after checking out the evidence. He smells a frame. Rosamund suffers a bit in the film from that Sondra Locke in JOSEY WALES syndrome. When you have Josey Wales in a movie, do you really crave anything else? She isn’t bad… she’s just doesn’t have THE part, ya know? Between Cruise and… WERNER HERZOG!
Now – I love films like this. Trail mysteries where each breadcrumb leads to the next – and then… eventually people are being killed in Werner Herzog’s fucking presence – because WERNER HERZOG is one of the scariest men ever. God bless him. He’s our Eric Von Stroheim and I adore him. People remain mysteries when they’re tough and when you hear the story Herzog tells about his character’s origin…. It is SO AWESOME – it’s a classic McQuarrie criminal bedtime tale – and I can’t get enough of these. It isn’t as operatic at Keyser Soze, but you can bet Keyser likes The Zec’s style.
If you love PARKER movies, this is a movie and a character of that kind of determination. JACK REACHER is made of that pulp – and McQuarrie knows that pulp. Cruise smartly puts himself in McQuarrie’s hands and the film that comes out of that has a wonderful swagger.
OH and Robert Duvall is a retired Marine with a Shooting Range that Reacher ends up at… and Duvall is totally in the Chief Dan George – CHARACTER & COLOR mode. He’s awesome. Just like Chief Dan George was awesome in Josey Wales.
Now I know, I’ve brought up THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES so I assume you have to want to know, what’s better? Well, OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. Duh. By miles, because that’s my favorite Eastwood western. Love it. And to have a film set in the current world that evokes that iconic man of mystery. The alley angel you hope is out there maybe putting a few wrongs right the wrong way.
This film is called JACK REACHER and after you see it, you’ll know the name and what it stands for.
Also keep your eyes on David Oyelowo, he’s the investigatind Detective on the case that starts the film. He does real good work in a role that lets him have some fun. He keeps doing really wonderful work in film. Can’t wait to see what he has for us next.
I’m so happy that McQuarrie finally has that career fire burning that I’ve wanted for him ever since I saw WAY OF THE GUN. Can I mention that film enough? And if McQuarrie gets to make a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film like it looks like, it’ll be one helluva caper flick… hope there’s some genuine flim flam going on.
12 years between his first and second feature and McQuarrie is improving with age! Now it gets really interesting.