Movie Review: Jack Reacher

By Melinda VanLone | Movie Review

Jan 11

Tom CruiseRosamund Pike and Richard Jenkins

JackReacher

 

It’s no secret I’m a huge Lee Child fan. I’ve read every Jack Reacher book, and loved them all. I’ve read all of Diane Capri’s books (if you haven’t read them, you really should!) because they revolve around the world of Reacher that Lee Child created and they help soothe me in between new Reacher adventures. He’s a modern day Wild West hero. He stands for justice, even if that means he gets his hands a bit dirty in dishing it out. He’s dependable, strong, and someone you really want on your side. If I were in trouble, I’d love to be able to call on Reacher to help me out of it.

When I learned they were making a movie of one of the Reacher books, One Shot, I was beyond excited. I couldn’t wait. Yes, I had mixed feelings about Tom Cruise as the lead. He’s a tiny little thing and in no way a match for Reacher’s stature. But I was willing to give the movie a chance anyway because I love the stories and Tom Cruise is a good actor, even if he seems a bit of an oddball in real life. I figured he’d do a decent job.

I wasn’t wrong. Tom Cruise does do a decent job as Reacher. I think I only had one moment, the first fight scene, where I thought “yeah, here’s where size should be an issue.” But it didn’t bother me. The fight scene played out well, and I fully believed the character could kick butt as he did, despite his obvious lack of height and body weight.

That said, I was disappointed in the movie itself. It wasn’t the acting, which I thought was fine. It wasn’t the action, which was okay too. It wasn’t even really the story, which should have been gripping. After all, innocent people are gunned down by a sniper. Anyone living near DC probably remembers something similar to that and the fear that went with it. It should have had me on the edge of my seat.

But it didn’t.

Something was missing. Something that made me glance at my husband about 30 minutes into the movie and wonder if he was thinking the same thing I was. When he sighed and looked at his watch, I knew he was. It was slow to start. Remarkably slow. Painfully slow. So slow I contemplated going out for popcorn and a stop at the bathroom.

I didn’t leave, but that was only due to my loyalty to all things Lee Child. I waited it out, and wondered what was missing. The book is engaging and never has a dull moment. Why didn’t it translate?

After the movie, which I’m happy to say did pick up about half way through and become more interesting and more like I remembered the book to be, we talked about just what was missing. In the end, I felt like they didn’t do Reacher justice at all. My husband said he didn’t find Reacher at all likable. That’s a killer sentiment (no pun intended). It’s vital to like Reacher, otherwise he’s just another bully with an ax to grind, rather than a save-the-day hero. I had to admit, if I only had the movie to go by I’m not sure I’d have liked him either. I realized that in the book you get a lot of Reacher’s thoughts as he goes about investigating and righting wrongs. In the movie, it was dead air. Often they didn’t even use music to fill the void. You see him moving around and staring at things, but you have no idea what he’s thinking.

To me, that’s crucial to his likability.

In the end, we decided that if they’d deviated from the book just a bit and had Reacher either take the detective along with him and explain what he was thinking along the way, or simply narrate his thoughts as they do in some of the Grisham films, that might have helped. They were going for stoic, and went overboard. Probably to make up for Cruise’s lack of height. In the end, it wasn’t the height that was the issue at all. It was the lack of personality.

I hope it does well enough that they make another one. I hope, if they do, that they do a better job of translating Reacher’s inner goodness to the screen. And I really hope they get a different director, because I blame the director for this one. To me it was the editing decisions and acting directions that made the difference, and took an excellent story and turned it into a mediocre action flick.

Did you see it? What did you think? I’m curious to know what you thought of it if you’ve never read the books.

 

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