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.