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Jack Reacher (Blu-ray Review)

3 May, 2013 By: John Latchem

Street 5/7/13
Box Office $80.07 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, language and some drug material.
Stars Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Richard Jenkins, Jai Courtney, Werner Herzog, Robert Duvall, Michael Raymond-James, Joseph Sikora.

He doesn’t care about the law. He doesn’t care about proof. He only cares about what’s right.

Those words describe the character of Jack Reacher in a nutshell, succinctly summarized by another character in the film that bears his name.

Jack Reacher the film, on the other hand, is a bare-bones procedural designed to provide a framework for its action and thriller elements.

The Reacher character comes from the book series by Lee Child, who has been pumping out a new novel each year, with the 18th due this October. The film is based on the ninth book, One Shot, which was written in 2005, around the time producers were pushing the making of a Reacher film, and the one that most enthralled them about the idea, according to the making-of featurette on the Blu-ray (explaining why they bypassed eight books).

The story kicks off with a tense scene, stylishly directed by Christopher McQuarrie, in which a sniper kills five strangers walking along the waterfront next to PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The evidence offers an open-and-shut case against a former Army sniper, whose only statement is “Get Jack Reacher.”

Played by Tom Cruise, Reacher is an all-around badass, a former investigator for the military police who went off the grid when his service ended. He arrives to learn the suspect was assaulted in a prison van and left in a coma. Intrigued by the case, Reacher signs on as the lead investigator for the suspect’s defense attorney and comes to believe the suspect is innocent and part of a larger conspiracy.

This is typical Cruise role, part Ethan Hunt from the “Mission: Impossible” movies and part Danny Kaffee from A Few Good Men. According to the extras, there was actually some trepidation about letting Cruise play the part, since the books describe the character as very large in stature. Yet once Child voiced his approval for Cruise (who also produced), the matter was settled.

Cruise gives a taut performance, and the action sequences are pretty exciting (with Cruise behind the wheel for most of the car chases), but the script (also by McQuarrie) glosses over the motives of its villains, establishing just enough to move the plot along, and eliminates the potential for several plot twists by informing the audience of the guilt or innocence of some characters well before it becomes relevant to Reacher.

Cruise joins McQuarrie for an informative commentary track that covers just about all aspects of the production, although the pair are unsurprisingly effusive in their praise for one another.

Another audio track presents just the music from the film, with occasional comments from composer Joe Kraemer. This is pretty interesting if you’re a fan of film music.

Of the three behind-the-scenes featurettes, one covers the making of the film, one covers the stunts, and the third, and probably most interesting, is a profile of Child and the Reacher books, and his reaction to seeing his character brought to the big screen.

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