The recall is instant.
A long, buy grim and silent opening sequence in the Tom Cruise-starrer ‘Jack Reacher’ has a shooter killing five individuals, seemingly at random, in Pittsburgh. You can’t but force yourself to play down the memory of the December school shooting in Connecticut, which left 28 dead.
But once you are past that point and through the first twenty minutes, ‘Jack Reacher’ is an exercise which is all about going through the motions of film viewing. You don’t want to leave because there’s Tom Cruise and therefore hope of popular cinematic resurrection and there’s Rosamund Pike, who does the film a significant amount of good with her sexy presence.
An army-trained sniper who’s been arrested for killing five persons (after being drugged by a mind-controlling Russian gangster) requests his lawyer Helen (Rosamund) to get him Jack Reacher (Cruise), a dogged military policeman who reads a trail better than a bloodhound.
Reacher lives like a modern day ascetic; an untraceable drifter without address. But he appears at the sniper’s side in the nick of time.
The district attorney is sure of the sniper’s guilt, but Helen is not and together with Reacher, she investigates and unearths a larger commercial motive to the murders of the five individuals.
The Tom Cruise in this film is a bit of Ethan Hunt of the Mission Impossible series and Ray Ferrier (War of the World). Ethan because he can take on five thugs at a time and Ray Ferrier because he is still human and determined.
Rosamund Pike, as a slightly over-the-top defence lawyer, is gorgeous and the only pretty distraction in an otherwise mediocre movie. Robert Duvall plays a dour shooting range owner named Cash. Then there’s Ray Jenkins, the district attorney who also happens to be Helen’s father. The surprise package of the film is acclaimed German director/actor Werner Herzog playing The Zec, a Russian mobster. With a dull bluish eye and a hand with several fingers lost to Siberian frostbites, Herzog is menacing enough. The Siberian experience defines the penalties he imposes on his ruffians who fail him, one of whom is forced to bite his own thumb off.
The movie is 130 minutes long, a bit too stretched by Hollywood standards and certainly not in the zone with which you would associate a Tom Cruise film. Insipid dialogues, a plot that fails to convince, and a jaded climax shooting sequence do not add to the Reacher glory.
What does are a few hot blooded car chase sequences, including one in which the lead actor drives a red Mustang in an action-packed show of flips and turns. One of the very, very few nice things you can look forward to in the film.
Reach out for Jack Reacher, if you are a Tom Cruise fan. If not ‘Dabangg 2’ should still be playing in the same multiplex.