Jack Reacher (2012) – 3.5/5

Jack

Decent, if not overly slow suspense/mystery/noir hybrid that isn’t the thrill a minute action flick the trailers would have you believe, for better and for worse. To its credit, the film has its moments, and the action scenes, the few of them there are, are pretty good, slow pace and all. And the story is okay, nothing special, with a few decent twists and turns here and there that are only somewhat predictable. And the acting is good all around for the most part, though Tom Cruise has certainly been better; he doesn’t quite fit the role, feeling somewhat stiff and unconvincing and just plain “off” here. Part of the blame is the dialogue he’s made to deliver, I think, which is like something out of a comic book at times. But his performance is also pretty distant and cold; there’s no humor in his eyes, no passion. He looks, well, bored, frankly.  Still, it’s not the worst movie in the world. Better than average, but not by much.

The biggest problem is the pace. It’s too slow, and somewhat dull at times. The opening was nice, and, like I mentioned before, the action scenes are all stellar for the most part, especially the **SPOILERS** car chase about midway through the movie which is shot in a unique, engaging manner the likes of which I’d never seen before. **END SPOILERS** It’s in the moments of violence that the slow, detailed nature of the scenes really pay off, and maybe that was the intention, but when such deliberate pacing is applied to every other aspect of the movie, like, say, the dialogue exchanges, of which there are many, the movie just slows to a crawl. Not sure what they were thinking here, making the thing so damn slow. And long, too. Terrible combination. It really could have used  tighter editing. Again, not so much in the action scenes, but everywhere else.

Overall, not a terrible film, but not as good as it could have been had the writing/editing/direction been tighter/sharper. The film is overly jokey at times too, takes way too long to do just about anything, and the scenes of action are too few and far between, though when they do take place, they’re quite great. And even though Cruise isn’t at his best here, he’s still decent, and surprisingly violent, especially at **SPOILERS** the end where he just about massacres everyone in sight without mercy. **END SPOILERS** Wasn’t expecting that. It’s almost as though the film is his way of expressing all the anger and frustration he’s had toward the media and the public over the years, though that might be taking it a touch too far. Still, this is probably his angriest, most violent role to date. So much for the likable “boy next door” image he so carefully cultivated early in his career, huh? Now it’s all about death and violence and pressing a bad guy’s face into mud with his boot. Good for him.

Oh, and one quick mention: the actress who plays the young teenager here is really great, and has several of the few moments in the film outside of the action where the slow pace actually isn’t a complete pain to sit through. You can tell the director had a lot of confidence in her, and it pays off. She gets to just act and react, like in theater, but without the showiness that such performances often demand of an actor. It’s such a convincing performance; everything is right there on her face, especially in the scene where **SPOILERS** she turns down the sniper guy when he asks if she wants to hang out with him. I’ve never seen that kind of interaction portrayed so realistically in a film before, where she starts out interested, then slowly loses that interest as he comes on to her until she eventually just brushes him off,**END SPOILERS** just like I’ve had happened to me countless times in real life! Wow! It’s all in the eyes, I’m telling you. And man is she gorgeous.

At the end of the day, though, it’s nothing more than a slow-paced, modern-day film-noir where Cruise is a detective trying to solve a mystery and nothing is what it seems. It’s definitely a film that could have used better, quicker pacing throughout. Still, it’s worth a watch, but just one.

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