Friday, July 12, 2013

Jack Reacher review

Tom Cruise has been on a roll lately. I think this is his fifth movie in a row that I've really enjoyed.

Being as it's a movie about a single character and starring Tom Cruise, I think I can be forgiven for assuming it was intended to be a mind-blowing summer special-effects action extravaganza. It isn't. It's a thriller. Having said that, I enjoyed the action more than do in many action movies.

In fact, I enjoyed just about everything about this movie; I just found it all to be very well executed. There was a balanced amount of action, and it was all fast, brutal, and convincing. The story was interesting enough and flowed well, it wasn't terribly unpredictable (what is these days?) but it wasn't blindingly obvious either, and the obligatory twists were handled well enough. Basically, watching Jack Reacher work was just fun.

A do have a few criticisms. The film has an anime-like obsession with making the central character look cool and mysterious, which might feel silly to some people but didn't bother me personally (actually, it felt a bit like a guilty pleasure; to enjoy watching a guy who isn't all human and vulnerable but rather just outright cool and awesome). The main villain, while quite characterful, isn't particularly menacing and probably could have benefited from a bit more screen time. Likewise some of the supporting cast could have had a bit more depth or backstory.

The thing that bothered me most, however, was that I felt the film has something of an anti-gun theme. It opens with a very powerful (and disturbing) scene of a sniper gunning down helpless civilians that's interspersed with shots of ammunition being carefully hand-loaded; while in theory this is just about establishing the character of the sniper, I can't help but get a "crazy gun people who are so obsessed that they load their own ammunition are really scary" vibe from it. Even the nice gun range owner who shows up later doesn't seem to have any objection to his patrons being universally referred to as being crazy.

I don't really think that's fair myself; anyone who's much good at anything spends a lot of time and effort on it, and that includes paying attention to the small details, whether it's shooting, driving, cycling, programming, writing, or cooking. In fact, tinkering and experimenting with every element is often part of the fun of many hobbies.

Of course Jack Reacher saves the day in the end using guns, so either I'm reading too much into it or the movie is somewhat hypocritical. I only mention it because this is kind of a big issue right now that Hollywood actors have decided to get involved in, which could end up affecting movies since guns on screen are part of the debate.

I'm giving it 8/10; a solid and engaging movie.

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