Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jack Reacher the movie

Having read several of Lee Child's Reacher books over the last couple of years - they're the kind of book you pick up when your brain doesn't want to have to think too seriously but still wants to be engaged - I was interested to see how the movie Jack Reacher came off, because there was a furore from many Reacher fans when Tom Cruise was cast in the title role. 

The furore arose because Cruise is short, and Reacher is continually described in the books as around six and a half foot (around 198 centimetres for those who understand such things). Not only that, Reacher is solid and tends to knock people over if they get in his way. 

Interestingly enough, Child was okay with Cruise in the role, as he commented: "Reacher's size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way." Of Cruise's relatively small stature, Child said, "With another actor you might get 100% of the height but only 90% of Reacher. With Tom, you'll get 100% of Reacher with 90% of the height." [Quotes from the Wikipedia page on the film.] 

So was the movie, now three years old, worth watching? Yes, because it retained the intricacy of the original plot sufficiently to produce some surprises. It had the typical one man (Reacher) versus a bunch of baddies set pieces that occur in many of the books: Reacher confidently asserts that he can take on five or six hulks and put them in their place (which is often hospital), is scoffed at by the aforesaid hulks, and then calmly does what he says he'll do. In the books of course, Child tends to describe in some detail why he achieves what he achieves, in grisly detail. In the movie this element got a bit lost. 

It retained Reacher's confidence about himself and his ability to live with minimal resources, and even without relationships. It retained his almost autistic ability to remember details, and to see what needs to be seen but is missed by others. And more. All in all a pretty good story. 

The car chase scene - in which Cruise does the actual stunts apparently - was okay, but has been bettered in a number of other movies. Still its climax, with the empty car casually moving down the street and bumping into yet another police car was nice. And the end of the movie, though it brought all the elements together, just seemed to be a bit underpar. There was tension, but not quite the tension that the books create. 

Still it filled up its two hours plus well (some reviewers thought it was too long, but I didn't), and it had solid actors in the supporting roles, including Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo and Robert Duvall. Rosamund Pike played the female lead, a good role until the end, where's she stuck like the female lead of old: waiting for the hero. Werner Herzog, the famed German film director, turned up in a small role as the Big Baddie, but basically it was his face that was effective; the role was a bit thin otherwise. 

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