"Truth and Justice Prevail, But. . ."
JACK REACHER stars Tom Cruise as a former military investigator roped into investigating a deadly sniper incident in Pittsburgh, which is part of a larger conspiracy. JACK REACHER is a fast-paced thriller with a moral worldview and another solid performance by Tom Cruise, but it’s sometimes a little clunky, and there’s plenty of strong foul language and intense violence.
JACK REACHER stars Tom Cruise in the first movie based on a series of popular thriller novels by Lee Childs. Based on the novel ONE SHOT by Childs, the movie offers some exciting chills and thrills. Fans of the Jack Reacher novels probably will be pleased generally about this adaptation, even though Cruise isn’t tall enough and despite some Reacher behaviors that don’t translate completely to the big screen. Also, media-wise parents should be cautious because of the movie’s strong violence, some strong foul language, and the movie’s apparent mixture of liberal and conservative elements.
The movie opens in Pittsburgh, Pa. where an anonymous shooter guns down five people near the Pirates baseball stadium. A former vet named James Barr is arrested for the crime. Instead of asking for a lawyer, he just writes, “Get Jack Reacher.”
Jack is a former military police investigator who’s gone off the grid. The Pittsburgh authorities can’t locate him, but he’s already seen the news reports of Barr’s arrest. So, Jack shows up in the DA’s office as the DA is discussing Jack with the detective handling the case.
At first, Jack thinks Barr is guilty of the crime, because Barr committed several murders in Iraq before being shipped home. Barr was never prosecuted, however, because the men he killed were some American contractors engaged in gang rape incidents. The military brass didn’t want the story to come out, so they just quietly shipped Barr home.
However, there are some anomalies to the Pittsburgh shootings. For instance, Jack figures out that Barr would never have picked the shooting position that the true killer did. Instead, Barr would have picked another position that would make it easier for him to cover his tracks. So, Jack suspects a frame up, and he agrees to work as the defense attorney’s investigator. Making matters a little dicey for Jack is that the defense attorney happens to be the DA’s lovely daughter.
Jack’s investigation becomes dangerous when the real killer hires a local meth dealer and his friends to entice Jack into a fight and get Jack thrown in jail. When that doesn’t work, he decides to set Jack himself up for another murder. Eventually, Jack learns that the original murders are part of a larger conspiracy. He has to get help from the elderly owner of a nearby gun range to save the defense attorney’s life.
JACK REACHER is a fast-paced thriller. Most of the performances are very convincing despite some weird moments that don’t make sense or seem a little too over the top. If you’ve read some of the novels, Tom Cruise makes a good Jack Reacher, even though physically he doesn’t completely fit the character in the books. Ably assisting Cruise are Rosamund Pike as the defense attorney, Richard Jenkins as the DA, Werner Herzog as the creepy main villain, Jai Courtney as the real sniper, and Robert Duvall as the crusty gun range owner.
The good news is that the hero’s main goals are truth and justice. Also, he gives a lecture to a local young woman about being used by the mean meth dealer and his friends. When the villain’s evil henchman murders her to frame Jack and kidnaps the defense attorney, Jack gets righteously angry. He threatens the henchman with great bodily harm if he kills the defense attorney. Thus, Jack practices self-defense. Also, he tries to protect the innocent, the vulnerable and the weak, especially women (children’s lives aren’t really threatened in the movie, but Jack would protect them too if they were).
That said, Jack hands out some vigilante justice two or three times in the movie instead of handing bad guys over to the authorities. Thus, justice is more important to Jack than the law. Also, JACK REACHER the movie contains plenty of foul language, strong violence that could be copied by children or teenagers, and brief sensual content. The language could have been cut down considerably, and one scene of implied fornication was not necessary at all. Finally, there’s also a scene where the seemingly good actions of two shooting victims turn out to be sinful acts when Jack uncovers the truth. Consequently, the world in which Jack operates is a broken world requiring a really tough, no nonsense hero.
Toward the end, Jack gives a speech defending his simple lifestyle, telling the defense attorney he has the kind of freedom that most Americans never truly achieve. Of course, no man is truly an island, which is why Jack constantly finds himself having to right wrongs and protect innocent people victimized by bad guys.
So, overall, MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution for Tom Cruise’s JACK REACHER.
(BB, Pa, AP, P, C, LLL, VV, S, N, A, DD, MM) Strong moral worldview of obtaining justice and stopping evil corrupt killers, marred by some vigilante pagan justice regarding main villain, but hero is mostly otherwise a fair fighter (for example, he offers some villains a way out of fighting if they so choose and doesn’t shoot the villain’s merciless main henchman outright but decides to engage in a hand-to-hand combat instead), with some apparent light liberal and light conservative elements such as characters are informed that the military covered up a sniper’s crime when he shot four U.S. contractors involved in some kind of gang rape incidents in Iraq, and hero admonishes young woman for letting young men use her, and he also mentions the conservative nature of policemen, plus a Christian, redemptive element where man repents of a past evil act and wants to make amends; about 29 obscenities (including one “f” word, some “s” words, some “h” words, and some “d” words), eight strong profanities, two light profanities; strong, intense violence includes sniper murders five citizens walking or sitting near baseball stadium, man fights thugs trying to give him a hard time with kicking and broken bones, man hit with glancing blow from baseball bat, two men try to beat clothed man in tub with bat and pipe in tiny bathroom but often hit each other and break things, car chase between hero, bad guys in car, and police, woman punched and then smothered to death with a man’s hand while she’s unconscious, gunfight, men have somewhat brutal fistfight in the rain, hero threatens a really bad guy with great bodily harm if he kills main female character, bad guys shot down, man beats head of one guy he’s fighting with the head of another guy he’s fighting, woman kidnapped; implied fornication as man lies in bed as woman puts bra on, young woman tries to seduce older man to entice him into some kind of fight with her friends, man says woman was acting like a “slut,” woman and man almost seem ready to kiss passionately a couple times but nothing happens, it’s revealed that two minor characters were cheating on their spouses and exchanging gifts, and verbal reference to some American contractors in Iraq engaging in gang rapes but incidents are covered up when the men are killed; upper male nudity and woman puts on bra with back to camera as man still is lying in bed; alcohol use; no smoking but it’s mentioned that a minor character makes and deals meth; and, two men framed for murder, vigilante justice in two or three instances, woman kidnapped and held against her will but she’s rescued, reference to corruption, one government official is corrupt and working with main villain, father and daughter have estranged relationship but movie generally prefers a reconciliation if possible.
JACK REACHER stars Tom Cruise as the popular hero from the books by Lee Childs. A former military investigator, Jack Reacher wants to be left alone. Jack agrees to help a female defense attorney defend a former army sniper for five murders. Jack learns the murders are part of a larger conspiracy. The real shooter and his evil boss try to frame Jack for another murder. They also endanger the life of the beautiful defense attorney. See Jack get angry. See Jack bust some heads.
JACK REACHER is a fast-paced thriller. It’s very good, but not great. Most of the performances are convincing despite some weird moments. If you’ve read any of the novels, Tom Cruise makes a good Jack Reacher. Even though, physically, he doesn’t fit the character. The good news is that the hero’s goals are truth and justice. He also protects the innocent and vulnerable. That said, Jack hands out some vigilante justice several times. The movie also contains plenty of foul language and strong intense violence. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution for Tom Cruise’s JACK REACHER.