Sat, 17 Nov 2018

Jack Reacher

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie (based on the novel One Shot by Lee Child)
Stars: Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher), Rosamund Pike (Helen), Richard Jenkins (Rodin), David Oyelowo (Emerson), Werner Herzog (The Zec), Jai Courtney (Charlie), Vladimir Sizov (Vlad), Joseph Sikora (Barr), Michael Raymond-James (Linsky), Alexia Fast (Sandy), Josh Helman (Jeb), Robert Duvall (Cash), James Martin Kelly (Rob Farrior), Dylan Kussman (Gary), Denver Milord(Punk)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year of Release: 2012
Country: U.S.
Jack Reacher 4K UHD
Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher is a good movie with a terrible title. Based on One Shot, the ninth novel in the "Jack Reacher" series of novels by British author Lee Child (which now counts 18 titles to date), it is a highly enjoyable throwback to gritty '70s crime thrillers that were made without wires, CGI, or hyperkinetic editing and instead relied on stunts, narrative twists, and star power. Tom Cruise, who also produced the film, provides the star power, and even if his eponymous character is an overly familiar entry into the centuries-old lexicon of flinty, loner heroes who operate according to their own moral code, Cruise makes him work in a way that is both thoroughly fantastical and effectively down to earth. When, late in the film, he angrily threatens a particularly nasty villain by telling him he wants to beat him to death and then drink his blood from a boot, you believe that he could do it and, even more importantly, you genuinely want to see it happen. No major movie star excels like Cruise in conveying intensity and sheer force of will, and Jack Reacher gives him plenty of opportunities.

The story takes place in Pittsburgh and opens with a mysterious sniper opening fire on the riverwalk in the middle of a bright, sunny morning, killing five seemingly random people. All evidence at the scene points to James Barr, a former Army sniper who, once taken into custody by the lead detective (David Oyelowo), asks for Jack Reacher, a former U.S. Army Military Police Corps officer-turned-drifter who lives entirely off the grid. Reacher ends up working with Barr's defense attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), whose father (Richard Jenkins) is the district attorney prosecuting the case. Helen's goal is to simply keep Barr off death row since all the evidence is stacked against him, but Reacher sense a conspiracy and manages to piece together enough evidence to make a compelling argument. We, of course, know that there is a conspiracy since we saw in the opening scene that Barr was not the sniper; rather, the man behind the scope was a hired gun named Charlie (Jai Courtney) who works for a sinister, mysterious crime lord known only as The Zec (German director Werner Herzog, perfectly cast).

Part of the film's pleasure, then, is watching as Reacher digs beneath the obvious to root out the actual culprits, which he does while being pursued by both the Zec's hired thugs and eventually the police, who mistakenly believe that Reacher murdered a young woman (Alexia Fast) who was just a pawn in the plot. Jack Reacher is, at its core, a procedural mystery, and its best elements revolve around the investigative process, which is not at all how the film was sold (rather, it was pitched as an all-out action movie). There are certainly a number of big action sequences and fight scenes sprinkled throughout the narrative, including a street brawl in which Reacher has to take on five guys at once, a bruising encounter in a very small bathroom, and a nighttime car chase through downtown Pittsburgh that finds Reacher chasing the bad guys while being pursued himself by the police. And, as well done as these sequences are, the movie is much better in the in-between, when Reacher is working with Helen and, later, a grizzled gun range owner played by Robert Duvall.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie first worked with Cruise as the screenwriter for Bryan Singer's Valkyrie (2008), and he has since gone on to write and direct the two most recent entries in the Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise. McQuarrie is an old-school, meat-and-potatoes filmmaker with one foot in the past and one in the future; he won an Oscar for writingThe Usual Suspects (1995), a striking indie that redefined and established all new expectations for the twist ending, while his directorial debut, the bloody, nihilistic The Way of the Gun (2000), would have made Sam Peckinpah proud. As both writer and director, McQuarrie has a strong sense of character and drama, and he brings an added level of intrigue and complexity to what could otherwise be rote action spectacle. Jack Reacher is primarily a Tom Cruise vehicle, but one that benefits substantially from McQuarrie's tense, grounded sensibility.

Jack Reacher 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital

Aspect Ratio2.35:1
Audio
  • English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround
  • French Canadian 5.1 Dolby Digital surround
  • French Parisian 5.1 Surround Dolby Digital surround
  • German 5.1 Dolby Digital/Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital surround
  • Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital surround
  • Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital surround
  • Castilian Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital surround
  • Latin American Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital surround
  • English Audio Description
  • Subtitles English, English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French Canadian, French Parisian, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Castilian Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Swedish
    Supplements
  • Audio commentary by star/producer Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie
  • Audio commentary by composer Joe Kraemer
  • "When the Man Comes Around" featurette
  • "You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons" featurette
  • "The Reacher Phenomenon" featurette
  • DistributorParampount Home Entertainment
    SRP$31.99
    Release DateJune 26, 2018

    COMMENTS
    Jack Reacher looks and sounds fantastic on Paramount's new 4K UHD disc. The film, which was originally shot on 35mm, maintains a distinctly celluloid feel to it, which is crucial since it clearly evokes the gritty crime thrillers of the 1970s, albeit with a distinctly 21st-century sheen. The image is very slick, with excellent detail and frequently stunning contrast that is particularly impressive in the darker and nighttime sequences. Colors look very good, although the film has an overall low-key approach to the color palette. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel soundtrack is also a clear winner, with impressive separation and depth. You can really sense the sonic detail in the opening sniper scene, which has a lot of silence but uses space very, very well. The bigger action sequences, including a revved-up car chase through the nighttime streets, are appropriately enveloping.

    All the supplements that were included on the earlier Blu-ray release appear here, as well. These include two audio commentaries-one by star/producer Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie and one by composer Joe Kraemer, the latter of which is really an isolated score track with sporadic commentary by Kraemer-and three featurettes: "When the Man Comes Around" (26 min.), a general behind-the-scenes run-down of the film's origins and production that features interviews with Cruise, McQuarrie, producer Don Granger, actors Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, and Werner Herzog, and author Lee Child; "You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons" (10 min.), which focuses primarily on fight choreography; and "The Reacher Phenomenon" (11 min.), which is essentially an interview with Childs about the character he created (we also learn that serious fans of the series are known as "Reacher Creatures").

    Copyright © 2018 James Kendrick

    Thoughts? E-mail James Kendrick

    All images copyright © Paramount Home Entertainment

    Overall Rating: (3)

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