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Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 01:57 pm

Cruise at home in Reacher

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Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in Jack Reacher.

In light of recent events, it’s rather difficult watching the opening of Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher as a sniper picks off five innocent victims from a distance. I wouldn’t say the scene is done in a casual or callous way. At least until our collective sense of denial kicks in or memory fades, the lens through which we see such acts on screen has changed, and we can’t help but ask the question about why such firearms are warranted.

If you’re able to put this sequence aside and look at the film objectively, you’ll soon get sucked into the mystery and intrigue of it. Reacher is the main character of a series of 16 novels by Lee Child, this being an adaptation of the ninth one. He’s a former United States Army Military Police Major who since having mustered out, drifts across the country, righting wrongs where he sees them or helping out old friends. Such is the case here. The suspect of the sniper killings requests that Reacher (Cruise) be brought in to help with the investigation.

What unfolds is a rather intriguing and engaging crime procedural in which our hero uncovers one clue after another, puts all the pieces together to solve the mystery and beats the hell out of anyone who stands in his way. He’s helped along the way by Helen (Rosamund Pike), the defense attorney for the accused. While she makes the most of her moments, the bad guys nearly steal the show. Werner Herzog (documentary and film director) makes the most of his few moments as “The Zec,” the mastermind behind the conspiracy in question, while Charlie (Jai Courtney), the actual sniper, proves to be a worthy foe for Reacher.

There’s no doubt that Cruise is hoping this is the start of another lucrative franchise he can fall back on and with all of the source material at his disposal, this seems to be a likely scenario. Among the Reacher faithful there’s been a bit of an outcry as the character in the novels is a six-foot-five-inch, blonde-haired, hulking man-crusher. While that may work well on paper, Hollywood would be hard-pressed to find an actor who could fit this physical bill. While Cruise doesn’t even remotely resemble Reacher, he’s more than capable of dispatching anyone who runs afoul of the character with bone crunching efficiency.

Here’s hoping that any future installments have as sure a hand guiding them as director Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) provides here and that they focus as much on Reacher’s smarts and personality as is done here. This helps distinguish him from the star’s other action heroes and reminds us that Cruise is capable of much more than just feats of derring-do.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org

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