Jack Reacher: Not Too Large a Stretch—Movie

Given recent events, it’s hard to watch “Jack Reacher’s” opening scenes and not cringe.  You almost feel guilty sitting in the theatre.  That’s a shame, because in spite of the bullets, blood, beatings and car chases (and the car chases are terrific), “Jack Reacher” is really an entertaining, old-fashion whodunit.

Starring Tom Cruise as Reacher and written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay based on Lee Child’s “One Shot” book), the film is about determining the innocence or guilt of former Army sharpshooter  James Barr (Joseph Sikora).

Barr is arrested for shooting and killing five people seemingly at random from a Pittsburgh parking garage. He asks for Reacher, an enigmatic, rootless former Army Military Police officer, who makes an unexpected appearance at the DAJack Reacher’s office, just as the DA and the detective in charge (David Oyelowo) of the investigation are discussing the case. Reacher decides to work with Barr’s defense attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike). A big complication to the defense is Helen’s father (Richard Jenkins), who is the District Attorney  and believes he has an open and shut case. Rounding out the story as Reacher tries to solve the case is shooting range owner Cash (Robert Duvall) and menacing villain,The Zec (Werner Herzog).

Since the novel’s Jack Reacher is a muscular 6’5”, its readers have been up in arms about the Tom Cruise casting. For my money, Cruise is terrific. He never “plays short” and is great with the quick quip. His scenes with Duvall are really fun and the two of them have so much chemistry, you’d like to see them make more movies together. And really, can you think of any actor better than Cruise to be behind the wheel of a Camaro as it races through the Pittsburgh streets?

Most of the supporting cast is very good. Richard Jenkins turns in another solid performance…how does he find the time to do so many movies in one year? And Herzog, normally a director in his other life, is convincingly chilling as Zec. Also very compelling in the pivotal role of Sandy is Alexia Fast. Unfortunately, Rosamund Pike is the real weak link in the film. She is terrible. In fact, I can’t think of anyone worse since Kristin Davis in the original “Melrose Place.” Nothing about her performance makes you believe she could ever be a lawyer, let alone one who handles criminal defense cases. Luckily, she is not part of a lot of the action.

So, if you’re looking for solid whodunit entertainment, forget the casting and just go for the story. It will be a good time at the movies.

3 nuggets out of 4

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