The revelations in the news lately about recruits with homicidal mental or political tendencies signing up for the US military to satisfy their urges legally, is a pathological equation that does factor into Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher. But don’t get your hopes up just yet.
Essentially a vanity production for fifty year old Tom Cruise and his quite possibly enhanced ripped abs and macho kickbutt moves on screen, this murky crime thriller may make reference to the thin line between murder and war. But pretty much as a sidebar vehicle to the obvious main attraction. Think Cruise’s self-adoring surly superstar Stacee Jaxx earlier this year in the atrocious Rock Of Ages, turned righteously vicious but no less vain in combat vet mode.
Adapted from One Shot, part of the Lee Child series supermarket pulp paperbacks, and written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), Jack Reacher dabbles in the odd contradiction of exploiting audience sniper anxiety in the real world. While sufficiently self-critical to abruptly cancel the movie’s premiere last month, due to its release simultaneously with the Connecticut mass murders.
Jack Reacher takes off with a scary enough scenario, as a lone sniper atop a building in downtown Pittsburgh blasts away at seemingly random civilians taking afternoon strolls along a park across the way. But there is something about the manner in which this carnage unfolds, that is not quite making sense. That is, above and beyond this increasingly hokey narrative. Barr (Joseph Sikora), the expert marksman in question, seems to have gotten away with a flawless crime. Yet somehow forgets to erase his fingerprints all the over the place, prior to absconding.
Which leads to the Iraq vet’s swift detention, faster than you can say Miranda Rights. And the additional peculiar detail that his plea is not for a lawyer, but rather a somebody or other elusive mystery guy Jack Reacher. And when Reacher (Tom Cruise) finally turns up, he wastes no time declaring his former military buddy’s innocence, and a determination to track down the real perpetrator.
The remainder of this convoluted concoction progressively layered with multiple lapses of logic along the way, involves a Soviet era ferocious ex-con (Werner Herzog), dubbed for no discernible reason The Zec. Relocated to Pittsburgh from Siberia but more as if from another planet, this born again crimelord with exceedingly bad behavior and a bloodthirsty posse of obedient Iraq vet hitmen, is psychopathic enough to raise the possibility that Stalin may have had the right idea.
And while assorted lawmen, perps and vigilantes scurry about in search of clues, a wacky motive materializes involving killing lots of people as cover for who or what is really on the minds of these armed to the teeth maniacs in question. And with Rosamund Pike’s defense attorney mostly gasping and mugging for the camera in helpless fright, as she bides her time on screen waiting around for saviors of the male persuasion to show up.