Jack Reacher Blu-ray Review
JACK REACHER is based off Lee Child’s book “One Shot”, which was actually the eighth book in the Jack Reacher series. And maybe that’s why the film feels like a sequel. In fact, JACK REACHER would have made a great sequel since the film is set up just like what you’d expect a sequel to be; we start out with a bad guy doing bad things, then a victim asks for Jack Reacher, then another character gives a speech about how awesome Jack is and then Jack shows up. No explanation, no background, nothing. Our hero is immediately thrust into the murder mystery, as if everyone watching the film knew who he was and what he was capable of. Unfortunately, those of us that haven’t read the books knew nothing about Jack Reacher and so the film felt a little incomplete.
When Barr (Joseph Sikora) is accused of murdering random strangers with a sniper rifle, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) shows up to make things right. It seems Reacher and Barr have a history dating back to their military days and Reacher is making good on a promise. But the case is not as open and shut as initially thought and so Barr’s attorney, Helen (Rosamund Pike), asks Jack to look into it for her. He starts to unravel a conspiracy mystery and as he does, the bad guys start trying to kill him, albeit unsuccessfully.
A lot of the appeal of the character of Jack Reacher is how he lives his life. He’s a drifter, owns nothing, answers to no one and is as tough as they come. Those basic qualities are enough to carry a character in a book because in a book you can take your time establishing characters and minor details can be revealed that help build those characters. Movies don’t have that luxury. So it was sometimes hard to get behind Jack Reacher as we followed him along during his investigation because we had zero personal connection to him. It would have helped to have a better understanding of his situation and why he lives the way he does. And I understand the mystery of Jack Reacher is part of the fun of the character, but for his first movie, we needed to know more about him.
With all that said, the movie works because of Tom Cruise. Once you just accept that you’re not going to learn what makes Jack Reacher tick, you can sit back and enjoy him being a great tough guy. I got a thrill out of watching him plow through bad guys with ease and if anything, I wanted to see more of him interacting with other characters. I was less interested in the motivations and actions of the villains and more interested in seeing Jack Reacher be Jack Reacher. I was less than impressed with Rosamund Pike, who overacted every scene she was in. I’m not sure if she didn’t understand what she was saying or if she was getting bad direction from Christopher McQuarrie, but she was a distraction in an otherwise top notch cast.
The murder mystery and investigation is actually done very well. I would hesitate to use the term “twist”, because I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone, but the mystery is revealed very well by McQuarrie and the story obviously had a lot of thought and time put into it. The action scenes are also very well done, providing a realistic approach to the story rather than succumbing to the blockbuster tendency to go over the top. I appreciated that they made Jack Reacher human in his reactions to getting hit; he’s not Superman and when someone hits him, he stumbles. That’s refreshing in any movie that features a tough guy.
JACK REACHER does have its problems. I’m not sure why Paramount decided to start with the eighth book in the series rather than maybe going with “The Enemy” (technically the ninth book in the series, but the first one if we’re going in chronological order). “One Shot” was not the best way to introduce the character, but even with that glaring problem, the film is still enjoyable. Tom Cruise fans will forgive the problems and enjoy watching him give another great performance while others might be disappointed with the lack of setup.
Video: JACK REACHER looks incredible on Blu-ray. I was most impressed with the night scenes and specifically, the car chase.
Audio: As good as JACK REACHER looked, it sounded equally impressive.
Commentary with Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie: McQuarrie and Cruise have been friends for a while and it shows in this commentary track how well they get along. They offer a very engaging track and cover everything you’d want to know about the film while keeping the facts and tidbits coming consistently.
Commentary with Composer Joe Kramer: This is really a score-only track, with Kramer occasionally jumping in and talking about his score and its impact on the film. This really wasn’t my thing.
When the Man Comes Around (26:47): The cast and crew show up to talk about how great the source material is, along with the process of getting Lee Child’s blessing on Tom Cruise and the film itself. Fans of the Jack Reacher novels should enjoy this.
You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons (10:28): I’m not sure what weapons they’re referring to, but this is a nice featurette on the fighting in the film and how they strived to make it as realistic as possible.
The Reacher Phenomenon (11:13): This featurette is all about Lee Child. He shows up to talk about his books, the characters and why Jack Reacher is so popular around the world.