'Jack Reacher', a predictable but decent thriller

December 21, 2012 

The opening scenes of Jack Reacher are tough. You’re looking at innocent victims about to lose their lives to a killer. Everything is seen through the rifle scope as it swerves from person to person. And you wait. Silently you think, not that person. Not that one either. No, no, no. Not the woman with the child!

You jump in your seat when the firing starts.

Considering the cold-blooded murders of children, teachers and administrators in Newtown, Connecticut and the two dead and one wounded at a mall in Portland, Oregon, the movie’s opening sequence hits uncomfortably close to home.

And then those scenes are over. The victims are dead and the mystery begins. Why were the five killed and what does Jack Reacher have to do with anything?

Reacher is played by Tom Cruise. He’s ex-military. A self-contained weapon. Retired and now a wanderer, Reacher is first named by the man accused of the killing, and then recruited by his attorney to help save the guy from being sentenced to death.

The big question is, did he really commit the murder? Reacher doesn’t think so. Neither do you. It’s too easy. He senses a conspiracy. But who and why? The who and why are part of the film’s attraction and it’s a decent mystery.

Cruise is — well — Cruise. These days he poses more than acts. He’s supported by Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day). She and Cruise click and their characters do a very interesting, romantic but — at the same time — not romantic dance.

Also starring in supporting roles are the always-excellent Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and the impossible-not-to-like Robert Duvall.

The villain is done by documentarian and famed director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Rescue Dawn). Being nice, Herzog is decent but, in the future, really ought to stay behind the camera.

And then there’s Cruise. It’s not hard to imagine Cruise as a villain or as a cold-blooded killer. He’s done them before and admirably. However, Cruise having martial arts skills that let him take on three to five guys at a time and kick butt in Jack Reacher is a bit of a reach.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (The Tourist) doesn’t let the film drag. It moves smartly along from the opening scenes to the climax. What McQuarrie doesn’t do is let you worry about the main characters or their fate. It’s all cookie-cutter.

And he couldn’t resist a car chase — albeit a good one — and with a very interesting conclusion. Too bad his movie’s conclusion isn’t as creative.

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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