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A misfired shot

January 13, 2013

As Jack Reacher, an enigma of a man played by Tom Cruise appears in Pittsburg, one is half-pressed to ask why because logic sustains that we wait for the mystery to clear itself up in due time. The question does answer itself at the final moments of the film (in a franchise-spewing epilogue), but by then our response gets limited to: “Is that all? Really?”

Jack is a war veteran — a former military police officer — and his noggin is a lot sharper than Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) the local lawyer (who also happens to be the district attorney’s daughter) — or the rest of the city’s police department.

Helen is defending a sniper, James Barr (Joseph Sikora), also a former war sharpshooter who took out five random citizens in the middle of the day — an act the media nor the government gives a hoot about. Before being beaten to a pulp by his fellow inmates, Barr writes on a paper “Get Jack Reacher”. A little head-scratching ensues. Who is this Jack Reacher, everyone asks.

With no fixed address — and just one recently bought shirt, which Cruise takes off in a Salman Khan moment — Jack is a hard man to pin down; that is until he walks into the police station where he is being discussed. Jack’s business here, or is affiliation with Barr, by the way, is pure hokum.

Based on Lee Child’s ninth book about Jack Reacher, the film has the ambiance (and the stale flavour) of a late-night cable rerun from the ’80s. Reacher is a “man with no name” archetype born to film in the wrong era by a half-interesting screenplay. His only distinction is that its lead makes a lot of Pittsburg women go weak in the knees (and I am pretty sure its Cruise’s charisma at work, not Reacher’s).

Cruise is fine as usual (without any noticeable character distinctions), and there’s fine support from Robert Duvall in the final act of the film. Other than that, the response still stays…“Is that all? Really?”

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (based on Lee Child’s novel, One Shot) and released by Paramount and Footprint Media, Jack Reacher is rated PG-13 for dislocated wrists, gun-fire and a ho-hum car chase scene. — Mohammad Kamran Jawaid