‘Jack Reacher,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


There’s nothing wrong with “Jack Reacher” that couldn’t be helped by losing 15 or 20 minutes of exposition and other kinds of explaining.

Sort of like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books: They’re long and involved but only sporadically interesting. Reacher himself spends far too much time on the kind of ratiocination that feels like so much procedural boilerplate.

Not that there aren’t things to enjoy about this film. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie will have you gasping with surprise at the velocity and ferocity of some of the action. There are sadistic, guilty-pleasure laughs at moments of unexpectedly brutal violence, performed by Tom Cruise as the title character. He’s always got a look on his face that says, “I never kid,” even when he’s flashing a bemused smile at the expression on the face of someone whose groin has just experienced a life-altering encounter with Jack Reacher’s fist.

“One Shot,” the novel on which the film is based, isn’t the first book in the Jack Reacher series, just the first to be made into a movie. It’s not surprising that it took this long; Child’s books are more talk than action, despite the fact that Reacher is a man of few words. Instead, the novels tend to be unnecessarily convoluted, without being complicated in an interesting way.

So it is with “Jack Reacher,” which goes the long way around, building to a colossal anticlimax. Still, getting there is an admittedly (if intermittently) entertaining ride.

The film opens in Pittsburgh which, along with the cities of Louisiana, now stands as one of our more popular movie locations because of the tax advantage those sites offer. A sniper drives to the top of a parking structure and casually pops five seemingly random strangers hundreds of yards away across a river. He leaves enough evidence for the police to track him down in less than 24 hours. They arrest an ex-military sharpshooter with a history that includes a similar incident in the Middle East, for which he wasn’t prosecuted.

The suspect’s only words to the police are written on a pad of paper: “Get Jack Reacher.” Which of course leads the local authorities to ask the question: Who?

This review continues on my website.

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