The elephant in the room is that the new crime thriller starring Tom Cruise begins with a sequence that is going to upset many. The film opens with a shooter on a top floor parking deck with a long-range rifle, shooting innocent civilians, even aiming at a young child.  It is really bad timing, but as the film progresses, you forget about that opening scene.  Your thoughts of the recent shooting quickly turn to the most narcissistic character you are likely to see on-screen in 2012.  In every way, Cruise was perfect for this role because it is exactly how he wants to be thought of, god-like.

 “I’m a drifter with nothing to lose,” Jack Reacher (Cruise) says.  A trigger-happy soldier Reacher once failed to prosecute in the military is now the lead suspect in the murder of five innocent people. The assistant district attorney Helen Rodin (Pike) is working with Reacher to solve this case that he describes as the all-too-perfect crime scene. The closer Reacher and Helen get to the truth, the closer to danger her life becomes. Reacher’s conspiracy theory starts to fall into place with every dead body that turns up and every clue he uncovers.

 You can replay that Oprah interview where Cruise jumped up on the couch over and over in your mind and understand why this narcissistic character was ideal for Cruise to inhabit. In the original material, the Jack Reacher character is a whopping 6’5’’ tall, and of course, Cruise is a mere 5’7’’.  Reacher intentionally taunts whomever he is speaking with, so that he can correct them, making him appear to be the smartest man in the room. He always knows what is coming next and always has the answer before the phone rings.  Even though the script is supposed to be constructed on suspense, our protagonist is always right and never loses.

 The females in the film are the typical helpless characters that are either discarded or need rescuing. Perhaps the most bothersome elements of the film, which are portrayed very grimly, are the random moments of humor that allow Cruise to wink at the camera and say, “How cool was that?”  Cruise does not actually wink, but the comedic moments are the equivalent. Cruise’s production company, called “Tom Cruise films”, produced Jack Reacher, so he has full control of this character and the portrayal. Working with novice director Christopher McQuarrie, who will now helm Mission Impossible 5, there is not much that stands apart from any other run-of-the-mill action thriller.

 Final Thought – Narcissism has a new name…

Grade C-

By: Dustin Chase

Dr. Donna Copeland’s


Jack Reacher, the title character, is based on a popular series of books about an ex-military man who is superhuman in his talents and skills, but a loner who drifts from place to place.  He is often accused wrongly of something as serious as murder, and then goes about proving who is actually the culprit.  If the law and justice system are not quick enough in his way of thinking, he takes matters into his own hands.  He is always the star, whether it’s crime solving with the detectives, DA, and lawyer, or fist-fighting with and shooting criminals, or car racing with criminals and the police.  He can take really risky chances and always win; and when he tells someone they need to protect themselves it turns out he is always right.

 I have not read the books on which the movie theme is based, but from what I read about them, the film seems to be a fairly accurate reflection of them.  In pondering why so many people like to read about such a hero, I think about why Americans might cheer on a one-man posse-like figure, when our Constitution and Bill of Rights is based on having justice rendered by courts of law.  Not that they are infallible, but most would agree it’s the best system we know of for justice.  

Another association I had was to James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, a meek and mild person who has fantasies about being a grand hero accomplishing great feats.  And maybe this is what appeals to the fans of the books—it plays into very human fantasies of greatness, especially when we’re feeling powerless.  We want Jack Reacher to be one step ahead of everyone, always anticipating the enemy’s next move, and fighting for justice.  

The acting in this film on the part of Tom Cruise, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, the inimitable Werner Herzog, and Robert Duvall is really fine.  Rosamund Pike is a fine actress, but she did not have much of a chance, given the role assigned her.      Grade:  C-