Jack Reacher

Thursday night I acted like a teenager instead of a responsible adult, but damn it was fun. The evening began with dinner at The Shed, one of Santa Fe’s famous Mexican restaurants — best red chile in town. My companion was Ty Frank, one-half of James S.A. Corey of LEVIATHAN WAKES and CALIBAN’S WAR fame. We drank margaritas and I finally got a red chile fix which helped drive out some of the cold. We talked about writing, and story telling, and games. I mentioned I was interested in seeing the REACHER movie and Ty suggested a late feature.

Throwing good sense to the wind, I said sure and we headed off to the Regal theater in Santa Fe. We had to kill time so we hung out in the bar at the Santa Fe Grill. The bartender created a “concoction” for Ty and I drank hot tea. More talk about — what else — writing. Then we headed over to the theater. My WGA card got us in for free. And I’m glad.

It wasn’t a bad movie. If it had been a TV show I would have said it was a pretty terrific two hours of television, but it just didn’t feel like a movie. It looked flat, and slick and too bright which made Ty think it was filmed digitally and not on film. Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall really outclassed everybody else in the film. Again, they felt like decent TV actors, not feature film actors. They just couldn’t fill the screen.

The other problem was the dialog. Christopher McQuarrie wrote and directed the movie, and he has a off-kilter, quirky writing style which I quite like. He also wrote THE USUAL SUSPECTS, and THE WAY OF THE GUN to give you some idea of his abilities (very good), and the style. But the Lee Child books are very, very earnest. Reacher speaks in platitudes and aphorisms so it became jarring. You’d have this quick, sharp, quirky dialog and then a truism delivered with no irony at all.

A lot of folks who love the books hated the fact that Tom Cruise played Reacher. Reacher is a six foot five bruiser, and then there’s Tom. But whatever else he may be Tom Cruise is a movie star. He commands a screen, holds the eye, and he has charisma. He seemed sharp and competent and I believed it.

Finally, there was the “mystery”. Within minutes of the murders that started the story I knew exactly what was going on, why the killings went down the way they did, etc. etc. Some of that might because I love to read mysteries, and I’m a writer, but it does dampen the enjoyment when I’m so many steps ahead of the hero.

Anyway, not a bad movie, and the price certainly recommended it. I’m really glad I didn’t pay full price. Or any price for that matter.

6 Responses to Jack Reacher

  • Laurie Mann says:

    I loved the photography of the movie, but I’ve always been a big fan of Caleb Deschenel’s work.

    If you’d ever like a “Jack Reacher tour” of Pittsburgh… ;->

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    Thanks, that would be fun. But boy we disagree on the look. I thought it was flat, and looked like a TV show.

  • Raymond Low says:

    Hi Melinda,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Like yourself, I managed to see this film for free. As a volunteer for the Toronto Film Festival the organization managed to host an advanced screening for as many volunteers as could fit in the theatre. For the price, it was a fine movie. I didn’t have a problem with Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher despite their differences in stature. He did a decent job. And Robert Duvall is great as always. But — yeah — it didn’t pull me in like other films and I, too, solved the mystery far in advance. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining film for the price. It will be interesting to see if this film is successful enough to spawn a sequel or two (or more).

    I wonder — if you were casting the film, who would you have considered for the role of Reacher?

    Take care.

    – Ray

    • Melinda Snodgrass says:

      I would have put in one of the big guys in the role. Vin Diesel or Dwayne Johnson. You just look at them and you’re intimidated. I’m remembering how great they were in FAST FIVE.

  • Chris Shaver says:

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I am in the midst of reading ALL of the Lee Child books – courtesy of my local public library. I had just started reading them when the promo’s for the movie started coming out, and I thought to myself “where do I know THAT name from?”

    Then I gagged :)

    While Tom Cruise is undeniably a great actor, this reminds me of when he played Anne Rice’s Lestat de Lioncourt – again a quite physically imposing character. While he managed to pull it off, whenever I read her novels, I never picture him in my mind as Lestat, and I doubt that I’ll continue to picture Tom as the 6’5″ 250+lb ex-Military Policeman Jack Reacher.

    Also, I used to go see a lot of free movies – either advanced premiers or freebies from friends who worked at theatres, and when something costs you nothing, that’s usually just what it’s worth :)

    • Melinda Snodgrass says:

      I don’t think I’ve read them, but several friends, Len Wein among them, just love the books. I may have to give them a try.

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