Friday, 11 January 2013

Jack Reacher (2012)

The fifth of January 2013, and I was, once again, in Edinburgh, but this time with two friends from school. Once again, we found ourselves heading to the cinema in the Omni centre on a total whim after finding that we were left with nothing else to do. When you're with two male friends and you're going to the cinema, there is only a select few genres it's socially sensible to plump for. One is a horror film, of which there were (thankfully) none available at the time. Another is the dark comedy, of which the new Martin McDonagh film, Seven Psychopaths, was the only option. I'd have be happy to have gone for that one if the only screening was not five minutes from midnight.

Then there's the generic action film, the genre which we decided on in the end. Jack Reacher is the latest film from the original generic action hero, Tom Cruise. I've never really gone for Tom as an actor, I'm afraid, but judging by the unexpected critical success of Reacher, I thought it wouldn't do any harm to give it a shot. I was hoping for something beyond the genericism of the regular action film, with its fights and guns and 2D bad guys. I was intrigued by the 12A certificate. How much must an action film remove in order to warrant one of those?

Well, it appears they can get away with quite a lot. At the beginning, a sniper in a multi-storey car park picks off five seemingly random members of the public, and drives off. Perhaps not a fantastic scene to broadcast during one of the largest gun control debates in recent times, but I don't tend to have a personal problem with violence in the cinema such as that. It was Cruise's introduction that I had my first mild problem with. The man accused of the crime writes his name on a sheet of paper, and he is discussed as a man who is off all official charts, shouldn't exist, only appears when he sees justice needs to be done... I don't know how long ago Hollywood ran out of personalities, but this one seems to be the cinematic equivalent of a Bag For Life.

Obviously, this character isn't of Los Angeleno origin, and is based on the one made up by the author Lee Child in his series of very popular books, so it isn't the screenwriters' fault, the poor things. Some characters have aspects that I do find interesting. The Zec's fingers, for example. That's quite something. He bit off his own fingers, and forces those loyal to him to do the same if he feels like it. And the person who plays The Zec, that's pretty interesting. Yeah. In one of the strangest casting decisions since the invention of the zoetrope, one of the greatest living film directors, Werner Herzog, was chosen to play the villain in this, a pretty standard-issue action film. I can't imagine the circumstances that led the casting director to think of that one, what cocktails were consumed that night. The funny thing is, it doesn't entirely not work. Maybe it's a curiousity thing. I'm still not entirely convinced that he was the only possibility for the role, though.

I look forward to the day when I go to the cinema and watch an action film which I truly enjoy. That day, unfortunately, wasn't the fifth of January 2013. It's just another film in which the main character gets into a fight at every available opportunity, so the screenwriters are able to show his skills under the circumstances. It's just another film that teaches us that every one of life's problems can be solved using a gun. Not my sort of film, I'm afraid. Next time I'll wait for the late night comedy.

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