LAKE OCONEE —
Rated PG-13 for violence and some swearing.
I don’t know about you, but the holiday season just elicits thoughts of vigilante justice, psychopathic killers for hire, and Tom Cruise, shirtless, cracking bones and slapping senseless thugs twice his size. After the credits rolled, I ran to the Hallmark store to see if I could pick up my very own "Jack Reacher" Christmas Ornament. Apparently, they were sold out.
I understand that "Jack Reacher" is the subject of a book series by Lee Child (actually British writer Jim Grant). Reacher (the print character) is 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs nearly 250 pounds. He has ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. I am fairly sure Mr. Cruise is missing one or two of these traits. Perhaps he selected this role because he missed the casting call for “The Hobbit.”
But who really cares? Jack Reacher is a modern noir character who does more punching and thumping — when he is not snuffing out — the bad guys. In Jack Reacher, we are introduced to the character; former military (Army) police and a graduate of West Point, who, after being discharged, drops off the radar to go from place to place distributing justice to those that deserve sticks and coal … and a broken femur.
One day, someone (a face we see right off) kills five people with a high powered rifle. The police immediately conclude that it is a disturbed army veteran, a sniper of course, who had went loony overseas and killed some bad guys and confessed to the aforementioned Reacher. But this guy got off (because the bad guys were an embarrassment to our side) and was released. He got away with murder.
This very former-soldier, during his interrogation process, asks for Reacher — who had actually promised to kill him one day. Why would the alleged killer ask for his “promised” executioner? Well, Reacher wonders that himself and commences to investigate the killings, ostensibly working for a defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) who just happens to be the daughter of the DA (Richard Jenkins).
Clearly something is rotten in Pittsburgh (where the story takes place) and soon we discover that, darn it, the worm that Reacher wanted to kill isn’t the killer of the five folks in question.
Basically, the film is about Reacher tracking down the killer and stomping people in his way. Eventually, he stumbles upon a gun shop and shooting range owner played by Robert Duvall (who practically turns, in a thespian dual, Cruise into one of the walking brain-dead). Actually Cruise isn’t bad at all but compared to Duvall, he looks like Howdy Doody on his way to Botox Anonymous (Hi, I’m Tom, I am a so stone-faced, I make Mt. Rushmore look like a TV cartoon.)
There is a long, long shoot-out scene that might as well have been part of a Western. Really! Even the set, a quarry, looks like umpteen westerns where there are rocks next to rocks on a bed of rocks. But, they had it raining, so I guess it is different.
There are so many logic-gaps in this film that it would even boggle the mind of Scientologists, but "Jack Reacher," the film, is fun. The car chases, Robert Duvall, the skull crunching, Robert Duvall, the two morons that try to kill Reacher in a bathroom, Robert Duvall, the muscle car crashes … and, of course, Robert Duvall's giggle when his character and Reacher pull a fast one on the baddies is all worth the price of admission. I enjoyed it despite the pap and sloppiness. Nothing brings a smile on my face than the snap of a clavicle of a dastardly villain. When that serial-killer screamed in pain, my conjoined screen-watcher tittered with joy and clapped her hands as if Santa had just brought her a dozen pair of Ferragamos.
I just have no real idea what the heck was the actual motivation for killing. I suppose it really didn’t matter. We came to see the Jolly Avenger shove glad tidings down the throats of the naughty. Gosh, I love the holiday season.
“Jack Reacher” gets three and a half bow ties out of five.