Reviewed by: Maggie Hays
Tom Cruise … Jack Reacher
Rosamund Pike … Helen Rodin
Robert Duvall … Cash
Alexander Rhodes … Suspicious Onlooker
Richard Jenkins … Alex Rodin
David Oyelowo … Emerson
Werner Herzog … The Zec
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Mutual Film Company
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“The law has limits. He does not.”
Sequel: “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” (2016)
Following the shooting at the theater in Aurora, Colorado, just six months ago, resulting in the wounding of 70 unsuspecting people and the deaths of 12, and then the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School mere weeks ago, resulting in the deaths of 20 children and six adults, this movie hits a nerve. It begins with five people, innocently strolling a river walkway, gunned down in cold blood by a sniper, for no apparent reason. A shooter is arrested and ex-military investigator Jack Reacher arrives on the scene to, hopefully, provide evidence of motive.
Tom Cruise plays Reacher well, just as he does Ethan Hunt in the “Mission: Impossible” movies. He has that self-confident carriage that makes him the “Righter of all Wrongs“—in this case, a potentially-innocent man wrongly accused of all those murders. Reacher is a modern-day Lone Ranger, a vigilante, an unsung hero everyone wants for a best friend when your rude neighbor acts like a jerk, and you don’t know how to handle the problem. Jack Reacher knows how to handle every situation.
Reacher does have a heart, evidenced by his protective attitude toward a young woman headed down the wrong path with the wrong guys. Desiring her welfare, he says to her “You don’t have to let guys like that use you”. If you’re a good guy, you will be glad Reacher is around. If you’re a bad guy, you will definitely regret any tangle with him.
Let’s look at the negative stats from a Christian perspective. One “F” word, several disrespectful mentions of “Jesus” and “Christ” as curse words, several crude references like “don’t be a p_ssy” and “h_rny”, “wh_re,” “pr_ick,” no sex scenes, though a one-second scene implies previous sexual activity, one woman bare-backed while dressing, and a report of rape. There is a bar scene. There are several cold-blooded killings. By the standards of the 1950’s, this film would have been considered terribly crude and peppered with dirty words. By today’s unfortunate standards, this film would have been so much worse if produced by some of Hollywood’s more illustrious purveyors of filth, and the body count would have been much higher and more graphic.
It is the violence in this film that is explicit. Is there any bad guy in this story Reacher does NOT brutally beat up? He hospitalizes many who make the mistake of annoying him, and we get to hear the crunching of bones and cracking of skulls. Though, to be fair, Reacher gives his opponents plenty of chances to walk away from his fast fists and killer kicks, because Reacher does nothing halfway. Once he engages you, your next ride will be in an ambulance. The PG-13 rating assigned to this movie is accurate, though it violently borders on “R.” I suppose if we had seen more blood that would have earned the “R.”
Bottom line, did I enjoy the movie? Yes. It is suspenseful, has a good soundtrack, and moves quickly as the mystery is engagingly solved. I like Tom Cruise in roles like this, he puts the bad guys in their place. Should you take your children? No. The brutal fighting scenes and the crude language are not appropriate for young kids, though blood is kept to a minimum. There is no “pray for those who persecute you” or “turn the other cheek” philosophy in this film—it is more like “I’m going to BREAK your cheek”. Or, as Reacher tells the cruel bad guy over the phone “I’m coming for you, and I’m going to beat you to death.” Be warned—that opening shooting scene will disturb the more sensitive among us, as it did me.
Point of note: at the end of this movie, the audience actually applauded. I haven’t heard that in a long time.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.