Monday, May 27, 2024

“Jack Reacher” Beaten by “Parental Guidance” Again, And It’s Easy to See Why


The moment finally came last night. While my family was in seeing “Parental Guidance,” I sneaked next door and caught “Jack Reacher” at last. OMG, as the kids say these days. What was Tom Cruise thinking? “Jack Reacher” is losing box office daily to four other movies including the Bette Midler-Billy Crystal-Marisa Tomei flick and I can see why. “Reacher” is a befuddlement. It’s not exactly Tom Cruise’s fault, either. He is a fine actor–witness Jerry Maguire, Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia.

You can see him struggling to make “Reacher” work. But it can’t. Cruise is completely miscast. He doesn’t get to flash his trademark smile once. “Reacher” is all gloom and doom. The character should have been played by Bruce Willis. Or even Denzel Washington. Jack Reacher is described in the books this movie is based on as six foot five. The actor doesn’t have to be that tall precisely, but a┬álarge, older sense of resignation is needed. Cruise attempts it, but his physicality does work against him.

“Reacher” is also a stagnant picture, and very talky. After the initial bout of sniper stuff (five people picked off, four of them women), “Reacher” has long sections of banter between Cruise and Rosamund Pike. Pike, by the way, must have been made to stand in trenches because she’s two or three inches taller than Cruise yet is often photographed alongside or below him. And you can tell. Anyway, Cruise’s strong suit is not glib give and take, or world weary wisecracking. He’s no Philip Marlowe. These scenes are quite exasperating.

Also, I take back the idea that this film costs more than the producers say it did. It looks like it cost 50 cents. Cruise is the most expensive object in it. And the static scenes make the under-lit, under-decorated rooms all the more glaring. Tom Cruise and ‘sparse’ are not ideas that go together. Without things whizzing past him, and exploding, he seems a little lost.

There’s talk that director Christopher McQuarrie is Cruise’s pick for the next Mission Impossible. Hmmm…As a writer maybe, but as a director? I’d rather have Tony Gilroy, who did so well this summer with The Bourne Legacy. Between this and “Valkyrie,” McQuarrie is better left to set pieces and small stages.

PS I came out of “Jack Reacher” — and a quarter filled theater at 5:30pm — mostly perplexed. The family, however, loved “Parental Guidance.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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