I’m not sure where I’ve been since 1997, but I’ve never heard of the name Jack Reacher until I heard news of the film being developed some years back. Turns out Jack is quite the popular character from literary author Lee Child’s wildly “popular” series of novels. Heck, this August will see the released of the eighteenth novel in the series. Wow! Again…where have I been? So when I was asked if I wanted to see this film with a friend last December, I kindly turned down the many offers because I simply had no prior insight as to what the film was about nor did I have any interest really in spending hard earned money on something I felt unsure of. And I never really been the biggest fan of Tom Cruise (although I do respect and there’s no denying his legacy and his many body of works), but that all changed this this past week when I saw him in Oblivion and upon arriving home from a business trip I found this title on my desk ripe for reviewing on the Blu-ray format. So needless to say…hoorah…I jumped at the chance. I want to see what I have been missing out on all this time and more importantly…who is this Jack Reacher guy? My inquiring mind wanted to know. And now I’m here to tell you all about him. And while you are at it…check out the 1080p screenshots below too!
Obviously, and just in case you did not notice, the film stars action vehicle Tom Cruise. In addition to him, you can also find such household names as Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins (he’s everywhere nowadays isn’t he?), David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall and Werner Herzog. Jack Reacher, not to be confused with the main character’s name here, is an adaptation of Lee Child’s 2005 novel, One Shot. It was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. And surprisingly, it was all filmed in one location. You ready for this? Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Love it!
One Shot, or as the film is titled Jack Reacher, tells the tale of five conceivably random murders achieved with only six shots accomplished by an expert sniper. The police are able to quickly identify and arrest a suspect. They think it’s a done deal, case closed…that’s all she wrote. But don’t the easy things in life always turn out to be the hardest? I like to think so due to my life’s many erratic ups and downs. So when the accused man claims he’s innocent and utters only one sentence, you have to wonder. What’s that sentence you ask? Well none other than “Get Jack Reacher.” And that starts it all ladies and gentlemen!
The only problem is that no one knows how to “reach” Jack Reacher. This is when the audience is semi-clued into just who the character of Jack is and we get to find out a little backstory on the man. However, just when you think all hope is lost, it isn’t. The police don’t have to search exhaustively for Reacher at all. He just shows up out of the blue. How convenient, huh? Well we quickly find out that there’s a reason why he inexplicably shows up all the sudden and I’m not sure I should share that here with potentials viewers who haven’t seen the feature just yet. Let’s just say after some careful examination of the crime scene and possible vantage points, Reacher isn’t convinced the police have the right killer and he is hired by Rosamund Pike’s character to uncover some dirt that certain people in the town really don’t want uncovered. Surprise, surprise, huh? And one thing leads to another as Jack Reacher seeks to uncover the truth and others try to bury him and his many attempts/pursuits.
I’m conflicted with this one. I feel indifferent in many ways, much like I did with my review of Broken City over here. Like the aforementioned film, I felt there was great potential here, but in the end it felt a bit flat and second rate. I think it really depends upon the individual viewer though. I know some who say this flick was excellent, some who say it was okay and others who have no affinity for it at all. I kind of fall right in the middle here, hence my score. To me, it just felt like a long two hours. There’s not much action here. It’s akin to watch a Sherlock Holmes film. The acting and subject matter was plausible, but the film moved along at a sluggish pace, at least for my girlfriend and I. But that’s not to say it’ wasn’t any good either. It’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. Weird, and I’ll get to it below, but I had much more appreciation for the film and Tom Cruise after watching the special features. I did, however, enjoy seeing the familiar landscapes of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities. I enjoyed that very much.
Like usual, Tom Cruise tackles the titular role of Jack Reacher with great enthusiasm and spirit. And you can never fault Richard Jenkins, can you? Many fans were thrilled to see Werner Herzog in this feature. And then yeah…there’s that lovely Rosamund Pike. And yes…there are some nice twin pikes, I mean “peaks,” to take in here…if you know what I mean. So in essence, the acting, the choreography and stunts are all done well and are acceptable to me. I think it’s just a matter of what pacing you like in your films. Like Aaron Neuwirth once said, he knew I would love the muscle cars and car chase. However, he also knew I would find fault and grow tired with the film’s pacing. The story just felt a little familiar to me, but all in all, I’m happy to have this in my Blu-ray collection and once I get around to it again (as free time permits), I’ll be giving this one another viewing soon. So all is not lost on me. But let’s take a closer look at why you are all here today…the Blu-ray’s A/V specs!
I don’t think, since i’m the reviewer here, that I need to defend myself, but I gave Jack Reacher a score of 5 here because there simply wasn’t anything I could point out that was wrong about it. The 1080p AVC MPEG-4 video codec is perfect in every which way. Paramount brings the title to the Blu-ray format with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and what I first noticed about the transfer were the colors. Things are bright, vibrant and natural underneath the thin veil layer of cinematic grain from the beautiful 35mm print. And most importantly, whether it’s a closeup or a longshot, things are incredibly sharp and detailed. Everyday objects like the fine grooves in parking garage cinder block walls to the lively veins on fall colored leaves, everything is in check here with the three-dimensional properties and qualities that we have all come to love about the Blu-ray format. What more could you want? This transfer is free from blemishes, noise and artifacts and the black levels and skin tones alike are all spot on and natural. Jack Reacher may not be the perfect film for everyone’s tastes, but there’s no denying it’s beauty and visual superiority on the Blu-ray format. So let’s take a look at the audio section next.
Like the video section discussed above, I really can’t find any faults with the audio section here either. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless surround track accurately captures every exciting moment and nuance of Paramount’s crime thriller. The first thing I noticed was the well balanced score flowing gracefully behind me followed by the accuracy and raining of gunfire that can engulf you at times. But that’s not all. They take it a step further in this Blu-ray transfer. Not only do you have a bird’s eye view of what it’s like to be a sniper and look through the spyglass, but you also hear what it’s like to be a sniper from dialing in the scope to the breathing behind the scenes. It’s all brilliantly captured here. And for the muscle car gearhead in me, you can’t find fault with the car chase scene and sound of that Chevy Camaro driving by either. Vroom! Paramount does a bang up job in faithfully reproducing atmospheric elements like music in a bar to squealing of tires and bombastic moments in gunfire ringing loud, fighting and crashes. The dialogue is all loud, clear and even throughout in the center channel. All in all, I have no complaints. It’s no King Kong or Avatar, but everything is up to par here and on display in sheer perfection. You’d be hard pressed to find a better sounding crime thriller elsewhere. Bravo, Paramount. Now how about bringing Double Jeopardy to the Blu-ray format in the same fashion, eh? In addition to the lossless track, the Blu-ray disc also features French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 51. Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
While it may not look like much upon first glance, there’s actually a wealth of extras to uncover and talk about here. So instead of wasting anymore proverbial breath and nonsensical metaphors on you, let’s take a closer look at the crime scene and discuss everything in detail that you’ll find here under the Combo Pack’s slipcover.
- Commentary by Tom Cruise and Director Christopher McQuarrie – I’m not usually a fan of listening to audio commentaries unless it’s a movie I really really care about, but take heed…you can learn a lot from this one. Tom and Chris discuss it all! Everything you wanted to know about the conception, making of, casting and much much more is talked about here. Who needs a making of featurette when you have this commentary track? LOL.
- Commentary by Composer Joe Kraemer – This is mostly an isolated score presentation and Joe comments occasionally. Stick with the commentary track above. Trust me on this one. Save yourself some time.
- When the Man Comes Around (HD, 26:49) – It was interesting to learn how this project came to be as it was brought to Tom’s production company 6 years ago. Cruise was actually the one who expressed interest in playing the character if he had Lee’s blessing, which he did. Lee called Cruise the greatest actor to ever live. Wow! That’s a huge accomplishment. Lee wanted a real actor first and foremost rather than just finding someone with the character’s 6’5” physical attributes in his books. Looks like he found him, huh? And the one final thing I found really interesting about this featurette was the fact about how they talked about the challenges of writing a character with no arc since from the beginning, Jack Reacher knows it all.
- You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons (HD, 10:27) – This one was also quite interesting as the subject of the streetfighting and how designing the real and visceral choreography was birthed. They didn’t want fancy editing. It was based upon a Gypsy in Spain fighting style where it proclaims you come into my space and I will destroy you. Ha ha. I love it! They also examine the humor in the tight bathroom scene, the finale, the sniper training and the fact that Tom Cruise once again did all his own stunts. The man is an animal! Go Tom! Go!
- The Reacher Phenomenon (HD, 11:10) – Lee talks about the freshness of the Reacher books he writes because the character is not grounded or rooted anywhere and he can move around freely anywhere he wants creating new settings and environments. That makes his stories dynamic and as a result…always fresh!
- DVD (SD) – The feature film is in standard definition on the second DVD disc in this collection for your minivan backseat viewing pleasure.
- UltraViolet and Digital Copy – So I’m happy to say…really happy by the way…that the film’s presentation in the iTunes Digital Copy format is in glorious High-Definition. The UV copy was not accessible as of this writing so I can’t comment on that yet. Thank you Paramount for the inclusion of a 5+ GB version of the feature film in HD on iTunes. I’m very appreciative of that!
So while I haven’t heard anything about any sequels as of yet (although I really didn’t research that fully), there’s no denying there’s a wealth of source material out there should there ever be one, two or fourteen more Jack Reacher’s. But anyway, for fans of the books or this movie in general, this Blu-ray should be a no-brainer purchase. You should pass Go right now, collect your $200 and pre-order this May 7th title right here. The audio and video presentations are as good as it comes and the supplements more than nicely round out the tight package. So what are you waiting for? You don’t need to be told what to do again, do you?