Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jack Reacher [2012]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (L)  Michael Phillips (2 1/2 Stars) The Onion/AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review
Michael Phillips' review
The Onion/AV Club's review

Jack Reacher (directed and screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie based on the crime novel (series) by Lee Child/Jim Grant) is an army/crime/detective story set in the context of a fictional mass murder sniper attack that is necessarily going to give viewers pause.  (The film was released at roughly the same time as the mass shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut).

That said, the film hinges on the following question: Can a sniper who apparently kills five random people actually have been contracted to kill one specific person plus several others to make the massacre seem random?  It's I suppose something to think about.   The question is, does one want to?

On the other hand, I've recently reviewed a documentary, The Central Park Five [2012] about a TRUE INCIDENT in which five young teenagers (all "of color" ...) were wrongly convicted of a crime that they didn't commit largely because society appalled by a horrific crime (the brutal rape of a white 28-year old female jogger one hot summer evening in Central Park, a rape that left her in a coma and nearly killed her) demanded speedy "justice" even if it severely altered/damaged the lives of further five (all "browner" ...) innocents in the process.  

So sometimes things really aren't "what they seem," and this film certainly does train viewers to "think outside the box."  As an example, former army investigator Jack Reacher (played by Tom Cruise) asked for by name by the accused shooter Barr (played by Joseph Sikora) asks the young defense attorney Helen (played by Rosalina Pike) to interview the victims' families as she begins work on (at least nominally) defending the person arrested for the shooting.  She thinks he's trying to teach her the lesson of having sympathy for the victims and their side of the story.  But Jack is actually interested in discerning just how "random" the victims were.  It turns out that two of the victims were meeting on the river bank there across the river from the garage from where the shooter was to have been perched because they were probably having an affair. The two still end-up tragic/unfortunate victims and the shooter was not targeting those two for any specific reason, but the reader here should get the picture.  An incident that appears to look "random" may not be random at all.

Anyway some of the performances are quite good - Cruise's, Pike's, Richard Jenkins' / David Oyelowo's (as the DA and chief police investigator on the case).  Alexia Fast plays a young woman named Sandy who gets caught up in the mess and Robert DuVall and Werner Herzog come to play significant roles in the story as it progresses.

The question becomes, honestly, does one have the stomach for this kind of film?  Yet do we want to see "patsies" then sitting in prison or even getting the chair ...?

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