Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Movie Review: Jack Reacher

Merry Christmas to both of my loyal readers and for your Christmas present I'm giving you, YES, a POSITIVE movie review! Personally, I think negative movie reviews are a drag so I don't know why I always end up writing them that way, especially since I actually enjoy most of the movies I see. I guess it's just that I don't write reviews of most of the movies I see and I'm usually prompted to write one when the movie annoys me or is surprisingly bad. I probably need therapy.

But now onto Jack Reacher. I didn't really expect much from this movie, probably because I view the star, Tom Cruise, as something of a flake. But that's silly. Since when has being a flake prevented someone from being a good actor? And Tom Cruise, however much I hate to admit is, is a pretty darn good actor. He raises the level of just about everything he is in, and Jack Reacher is no exception.

Jack Reacher the character is the hero of a series of books that I haven't read but they sound interesting. From the Wikipedia description, he sounds sort of like Dirty Harry, Military Police. Tom Cruise does an outstanding job of portraying the character (although I think Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson would have done better) and the other acting is good as well.

The plot is a canned action-movie plot. You've got your superhuman action hero, your sexy female co-star, your rugged and humorous sidekick, your powerful and scary-evil villain and his superhuman action henchman. You've got your mystery appearance of the hero out of nowhere, your side plot involving family struggles, your expected unexpected betrayal, your easily solved mystery (so us non-mystery experts can feel smart for figuring it out before the hero does), your sexy too-young girl coming on to the hero in a bar, your bar fight with 5 to 1 odds against the hero (spoiler alert! the hero wins), your plot twist where the cops are after the hero, your evil villain showing how evil he is by killing his own guy, your car chase, your damsel in distress, your hero to the rescue, your climactic mano-a-mano with superhuman hero vs. superhuman evil henchman. You've got everything you want and need in a classic action movie. There is just one element missing but I won't say what that is because it would be a spoiler.

Now, if you aren't an action movie fan, that list of plot elements probably has you thinking that the movie wasn't good because it was so predictable. But if you think so, then you just do not understand the art form of the action movie. The action movie is a stylized art form. It is supposed to have certain character roles and certain plot elements. The art in action movies is not in coming up with unusual plots; the art is in the engaging or frightening character quirks, the interesting back stories and locations, the funny or memorable dialog, and the acting that makes you identify with the good guys and despise the bad guys so you really care about the outcome.

Jack Reacher is an excellent example of the art of action movies in the sense that I just described. The hero is dramatic, the other good guys are quirky good, the bad guys are quirky despicable, and the climax is grandly satisfying. All in all, a fun movie. Highly recommended.