Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Director:     Edward Zwick
Writers:       Richard Wenk; Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz
Actors:        Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh

Now in his 50’s, Tom Cruise can still outwit and outfight the bad guys of the world.  As Jack Reacher, he walks the path of the lonely, misunderstood  idealist who acts with practical necessity to be true to himself.  He brings honest conflict to a role which requires an inner angst only a man can convey if he’s truly lived it. There is raw pain and regret in the history of this man beset with many emotional challenges.  Unlike most men who are forced to kill, he acts not only because he wants to survive, but because he is driven to defend those he feels are unjustly wronged.  Finally, even if he senses ultimate betrayal in his loyalties, he still must act in a way to affirm his inner truths.

I truly like Jack Reacher, the man and the movie.  Tom Cruise is such a strong presence he generally overwhelms any character he plays, but in this role, he sublimates that enough so we see the soul of Jack Reacher, and occasionally forget that he's the actor, Tom Cruise.  I love the honesty of the ending.  As producer of this movie, Tom influenced it in a way I truly respect.  In one scene, when Tom and Cobie Smulders (the person he chooses to save) are being targeted by the bad guys, they make a point to chase out the restaurant kitchen staff so they don’t get killed in the gunfight which ensues.  For this alone, I give this movie an “8” (out of 10) for human values.  By comparison, I give “Jason Bourne” a “3” because that movie USED humans as protective shields against gunfire.  The only reason it isn’t a “1” is because Jason did try to protect the people who were on his side and he was fighting for truth.

In this movie, I also loved the exploration of father-daughter mechanics… the theme of accepting responsibility for one’s actions, whether past, present or future.  In all other production values (directing, choreography, writing, acting, etc.), I would also give it an “7”.   The directing is experienced and competent, though I was hoping for some scenes with a more profound subtextual revelation.  Cobie is fabulous as a tough woman who can take rough treatment as well as give it.  The screenplay/storyline was only TV-average. Action afficionados might be disappointed that the “kill” scenes aren’t more elaborate and thrilling, but that’s actually why I liked this movie.  It’s more about being human in a violent world rather than being violent in a human world.

Did the protagonist and antagonist get their just endings?  I give Justice  a "9".  The bad guys got caught, and our hero is still lonely and misunderstood... but quite free to continue his hero's journey.
TAGS:  Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher, Cobie Smulders, Edward Zwick, Richard Wenk, Marshall Herskovitz