Desperate times

Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher is based on Lee Child’s best-selling novel One Shot. It is a preposterous thriller with a hero who does preposterous things, just like our Bollywood heroes, and a villain (director Werner Herzog) with a snow-white eyeball who asks one of his cronies to bite his own finger off.

Set in gun-loving America, the timing of the release is eerie and rather insensitive. The saving grace perhaps is that the shooters are predictably crazed sociopaths.

This is pure pulp, heavily dependent on jingoistic dialogues meant to glorify the do-gooder hero, the eponymous military investigator played by Tom Cruise (Cruise also co-produces the film), sound effects magnified to overbuild the suspense, and a long car chase luridly morphed by CGA.

There are some enjoyable sequences, although the film holds hardly any surprises or ingenious twists for those who have not read the book. The lead woman is a lawyer played by Rosamund Pike, who, of course, is finally taken captive by the man with the icy eyes, to be rescued by Jack.

Jack Reacher begins with the fatal shooting of five ordinary citizens by a trained US army sniper. When he is caught, he asks for Jack Reacher, who is a former investigator for the army and is now completely off the map and the radar of anyone in the establishment. He comes back, works with the lawyer (Pike) who represents the sniper and has to deal with the lawyer’s father, the district attorney played by Richard Jenkins, besides all the hilariously menacing hurdles to get to the villain. A scene which involves beating up four moronic bullies outside a bar is particularly hilarious.

Jack is self-important and smug, without a hint of self-deprecation. These are desperate times for Cruise. His chests and biceps are pumped, unsuited to the maturing lines around his eyes, and he tries his best to nail the good guy who appears bad, addicted to risking everything to solve one case. Although the villain’s part requires Herzog to be deadpan, he seems to enjoy playing it.

It seems like a really long film, as the story meanders to many things—arms control, enslavement and depravation of military staff and some sketchy lives inadvertently involved in a crime scene—some of which are philosophized to laughable proportions.

Besides a few enjoyable moments, it is a mind-numbing project to watch Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher released in theatres on Friday.