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Jack Reacher (2012)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/7/2013

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/2/2012

Jack Reacher is a fictional character who originally appeared in a series of novels written by author Lee Child. According to Wikipedia, Reacher's physical description is as such, "Reacher is 6'5" tall (1.96 m) with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 220 and 250 pounds (100–115 kg). He has ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. He has very little body fat, and his muscular physique is completely natural...He is exceptionally strong, has a high stamina, but is not a good runner." Who do you picture when you read that description? Dolph Lundgren in the 80s? Maybe a young Liam Neeson? Would you believe Tom Cruise? And that's just one of many problems with the movie Jack Reacher, based on the novel One Shot.

As Jack Reacher opens, a sniper opens fire on a crowd in Pittsburgh, killing five people. The evidence points to ex-soldier James Barr (Joseph Sikora), who is arrested. The only communication that the man will give is a note which reads, "Get Jack Reacher". Before, District Attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) or his daughter, defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), can react to this, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) comes to town. Reacher is a former MP who is basically a drifter. He knows Barr, but doesn't care for the man. Still, he agrees to do some investigating for Helen, as he feels that the evidence doesn't add up. Reacher begins to look into Barr's habits and associates, and it quickly becomes clear that someone doesn't want him doing so. As Reacher gets closer to the truth, it becomes clear that something more sinister than anyone suspects is going on behind the scenes.

Jack Reacher isn't the first time that Tom Cruise has bullied his way into a role. (I'm sure that he would say that he "lobbies" for parts, but when someone has that much power and clout, it has to be thought of as bullying.) We saw this before with Interview with the Vampire and Rock of Ages and the result is rarely good. It's admirable that Cruise wants to stretch for these roles, but he must know his limitations. (I can only assume that people are afraid to tell him no.) When he plays an arrogant, jerky character, it's totally believable, otherwise, I find him lacking as an actor. I have not read any of the Jack Reacher books, and it's not necessary to know that he's out of his element as this character. Reacher is clearly supposed to be the strong, silent type who is intimidating. There's nothing scary about Cruise here. He just seems to be playing any other Tom Cruise character. Therefore, the big five-on-one street fight is ludicrous, as those guys would have easily beaten Cruise to death.

Cruise's mis-casting is only part of the problem with Jack Reacher. The other issue is the story itself. I have a feeling that the mystery/conspiracy plot works well in the book, but Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie (who previously worked with Cruise on Valkyrie) can't seem to wring any suspense or excitement out of his screenplay. This is essentially a court-room thriller before the case has gone to trial, as Reacher and Helen attempt to learn the truth about the case. But, the mystey is hardly engrossing, as there are very few clues. When Reacher reveals the motive behind the shootings, all of the air is sucked out of the film and the response from most viewers will be, "Oh, OK." Therefore, all that we are left with is a movie where Tom Cruise travels from location-to-location attempting to either intimidate and charm people. As far as the mystery goes, my only advice is to pay attention during the opening credits. (And, if you really step back and look at the story, it makes no sense. I won't spoil anything, but the villains behaviors make the motive look silly.)

As a child of the 80s, I'm a fan of action-thrillers and despite my misgivings about Tom Cruise, I was hoping that Jack Reacher would deliver. Instead, we get a movie with flat action scenes and a leading man who is hard to believe. We simply watch Cruise try to be tough, be he always reverts back to his “Hey, I’m Tom Cruise.” face. More novels need to be brought to the screen, but not in this way.

Jack Reacher didn’t make Pittsburgh look like a very nice place on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good -- they are natural and never flashy. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture has nice depth to it, especially the nighttime exterior scenes, and the image holds the perfect amount of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is an exemplary track, as the stereo and surround sound effects are numerous and pleasing to the air. The stereo effects show good separation and do a nice job of highlighting sounds coming from off-screen. The surround effects really kick in during the action scenes, especially the car chase. The gunfire really hits home thanks to the subwoofer.

The Jack Reacher Blu-ray Disc contains a selection of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY from Composer Joe Kraemer. "When the Man Comes Around" (27 minutes) is a detailed making-of featurette which starts with the choice of which Lee Child book to adapt and the choice of having Cruise star. From there, the piece places most of its emphasis on the cast and characters. We hear many comments from the actors and filmmakers who discuss the casting process and how everyone worked together. There is a nice amount of on-set footage and we even hear from Child himself. (Cruise's interview is shot in an odd style.) "You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons" (10 minutes) looks at the stunts and the fights in the film, focusing on the big five-against-one street fight. We see the preparation and planning which went into the fights. Author Lee Child discusses his books and what makes his character unique in "The Reacher Phenomenon" (11 minutes).

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.