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Jack Reacher: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

Jack Reacher (2012) movie poster Jack Reacher

Theatrical Release: December 21, 2012 / Running Time: 130 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Christopher McQuarrie / Writers: Lee Child (book One Shot); Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay)

Cast: Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher), Rosamund Pike (Helen Rodin), Richard Jenkins (Alex Rodin), Werner Herzog (The Zec), David Oyelowo (Detective Emerson), Jai Courtney (Charlie Smith), Joseph Sikora (James Mark Barr), Robert Duvall (Martin Cash), Alexia Fast (Sandy Dupree), Michael Raymond-James (Grigor Linsky), Vladimir Sizov (Vlad), Josh Helman (Jeb Oliver), James Martin Kelly (Rob Farrior), Dylan Kussman (Gary)

Buy Jack Reacher from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + DC + UV • DVD • Instant Video

Don't tell Tom Cruise that he's 50. He's still game for action hero mode, welcoming fights, stunts, and shirtless scenes. Don't tell Tom Cruise his box office drawing power is in doubt.
He'll take his chances on a pre-Christmas opening against the toughest competition of the year. Don't tell Tom Cruise that he's 5'7". He'll happily play a character measuring 6'5" on the page.

All these traits of the world's one-time biggest movie star are on display in Jack Reacher, the first feature adapted from British author Lee Child's series of best-selling novels. This has the feel of a 1990s film, which I do not mean as a slight. The '90s were the heyday for John Grisham, Jack Ryan, and films like The Fugitive, well-made populist popcorn entertainment that was succeeded by the sleeker, hollow, more frantic and sometimes Hong Kong-inspired thrills of Jerry Bruckheimer productions helmed by the likes of Michael Bay and Tony Scott. Action movies grew more violent and intense, making them less palatable to general adult audiences and of greater interest to young males, a demographic being simultaneously courted by graphic shooter video games.

I don't think Cruise or his screenwriter/director Christopher McQuarrie (who co-wrote Valkyrie and alone won an Oscar for The Usual Suspects) are trying to turn back the genre here. PG-13 thrillers just happen to be Cruise's comfort zone and the one that has served him best in his more than thirty years in the business.

You're gonna need more than a gun to take down tall, blonde drifter Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise).

Jack Reacher opens with a wordless prologue showing a sniper taking out five random pedestrians in downtown Pittsburgh from a van in a parking garage. The scene, which bears unsettling resemblance to the 2002 Washington, D.C. area killing spree (Child's novel One Shot, ninth in the line, was published back in 2005), is the film's principal action, weighing over all that is to come. The crime is soon pinned on James Mark Barr, an Iraq veteran who rather than confessing to authorities, writes a note saying "Find Jack Reacher."

That is easier said than done. Reacher (Cruise) has been living off the grid for two years, claiming an addiction to anonymity. He shows up and offers to assist Barr's lawyer, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), the young daughter of the district attorney (Richard Jenkins). A former military police officer, Reacher knows of a similar rampage Barr committed in Baghdad that was covered up. He has Helen meet with the relatives of the Pittsburgh attack's victims to confirm that she's willing to defend her client and try to spare him the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Reacher is pursuing the possibility that maybe Barr, who lies comatose following a jail beating, isn't actually guilty of the shootings. Though not the dirty blonde, 250-pound man Child wrote about, Cruise does play Reacher as the kind of hard-nosed, fast-thinking tough guy who can easily beat up a gang of five imposing younger men single-handedly.

Any eligible bachelorette would be forgiven for wanting Jack Reacher/Tom Cruise, but defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) manages to display some restraint. Filmmaker Werner Herzog is appropriately terrifying as maimed, milk-eyed Siberian gulag survivor "Zec Chelovek."

For his part, Cruise looks like he could have made this movie back in the '90s, perhaps right after or instead of the original Mission: Impossible.
It probably would have been a bigger attraction back then than the $80 million picture this ended up being domestically, dwarfed by fellow holiday season releases The Hobbit, Django Unchained, and Les Mis.

Still, it is impressive that Cruise can still make this kind of movie credibly and not suffer further blows to his somewhat damaged reputation. We may never again see the day where the masses rush to see the big new Tom Cruise movie timed to a busy holiday weekend. But, there are very few men of any age who can turn profit on an action movie entirely on their name. Look at how genre veterans Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Dwayne Johnson all tried and failed to generate interest in solo action vehicles earlier this year. Even Bruce Willis wielding his beloved Die Hard brand could only muster a fraction of his sequel's budget in the domestic marketplace.

Whether or not Cruise deserves credit for the respectable returns, he makes solid contributions to Jack Reacher's entertainment value. Without anything resembling reinvention, Cruise takes a movie that would have been a dud in any of the aforementioned action stars' hands and makes it a passable experience. The corny one-liners, inevitable twists, and standard elements (e.g. a car chase) might not win you over. But somehow, you put Cruise in the middle of it, connect this to his charisma, his personal baggage and all his well-known outings, and the polished, competent film becomes more than watchable. It helps to have a cast so solid that Jenkins' character is merely the third most interesting senior citizen featured. The other two: an always welcome Robert Duvall having fun in limited screentime and director/documentarian Werner Herzog making a random, highly effective on-camera appearance as a maimed, milk-eyed Siberian survivor who gives his name as Zec Chelovek (translation: "Human Prisoner").

Although the film's $136 M international gross wasn't shabby, it seems unlikely that Cruise will make another Jack Reacher movie, with Mission: Impossible being a franchise of greater value and potential to both the star/producer and distributor Paramount Pictures. In fact, earlier this week Cruise and the studio confirmed he'll be back for a fifth M:I, with McQuarrie a leading contender to direct. Meanwhile, Jack Reacher has become one of 2012's last films to turn up on home video, releasing this week in a DVD and the two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack reviewed here.

Watch a clip on Paramount's Reach for Reacher car giveaway:

Jack Reacher: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, DVS)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Descriptive Service)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; BD film only: English SDH
Video Extras Subtitled; DVD Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video


Jack Reacher's Blu-ray supplies flawless 2.40:1 picture and dynamite 7.1 DTS-HD master audio. The latter commands notice with strong bass and tasteful effects, like an enveloping climactic rain. Paramount should satisfy nearly everyone in the US with its ample dub and subtitle options detailed above.

Warmly-jacketed director Christopher McQuarrie likes what he sees on the "Jack Reacher" set in "When the Man Comes Around." Tom Cruise shows a stunt coordinator the punches he has planned for Jack Reacher's 1-on-5 fight.


The Blu-ray's extras begin with two audio commentaries. The first gathers thoughts from Tom Cruise and screenwriter/director Christopher McQuarrie. A Cruise commentary should be a big deal, but the allure of this one wears off quickly, as he and his recurring collaborator start celebrating the music and then resort to standard screen-specific technical talk and actor praise.
They have plenty to say, but nothing is especially remarkable or not obvious from watching the film. McQuarrie does the bulk of the speaking in the first half I endured.

The second commentary, unmentioned on the case, features composer Joe Kraemer and largely functions as an isolated score track, with Kraemer occasionally speaking over his score. More often, he fills the dead air of the unscored portions with thoughts on his work, McQuarrie's guidance, and the live orchestra's recording process. As isolated music tracks haven't been turned up in ages, fans of the feature should appreciate this rarity.

On the video side, three featurettes are presented in HD.

"When the Man Comes Around" (26:49) documents the film's creation with interviews from all relevant parties, including author Lee Child, producer Don Granger, McQuarrie, Cruise, and the supporting cast. They spend several minutes defending the character's resizing, before moving to how they stretched the budget (having Cruise shoot with two units back-to-back) and then running through the cast, including cameo-making Child and Herzog, who explains how he lost twenty pounds for his part. It's a pretty solid making-of companion to the film.

"You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons" (10:27) turns our attention to the film's brand of semi-old-fashioned action, with behind-the-scenes looks at fight choreography and stunt filming.

British author Lee Child reflects on his most successful protagonist and how he lends to a Tom Cruise film in "The Reacher Phenomenon." Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) looks over photos of the sniping victims on the DVD's main menu montage.

Finally, "The Reacher Phenomenon" (11:10) celebrates Lee Child's novels with an exploration of what makes Reacher tick from the author himself, who also reveals the joys and challenges of his work.

The same DVD sold on its own, the second disc included here quite lamely offers no bonus features whatsoever. At least the disc is filled near capacity, though it could have snuck in a commentary or featurette with ease.

At insertion, the Blu-ray tries streaming HD trailers. For me, it previewed World War Z and nearly finished Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters before running into trouble.
The DVD plays both of those, a trailer for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and an anti-smoking spot. Its "Previews" listing places a Pain & Gain trailer in front of the three already played.

Fitted with actiony score excerpts, the menu makes a montage out of photos and filtered clips. Typical for a Paramount BD, this one supports bookmarks but does not resume playback.

The eco-friendly keepcase slides into an embossed slipcover. Three inserts supply your complimentary combination digital copy/UltraViolet code, a code for downloading a chapter of Lee Child's upcoming next Jack Reacher novel Never Go Back, and a short-term code for $10 off sporting event tickets at Ticketmaster.

Charlie (Jai Courtney) and authorities pursues Jack Reacher in the obligatory car chase sequence. D.A. Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins, background) and Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) push for a confession and instead get a call for Jack Reacher.


While Tom Cruise's commercial value may have suffered a blow, his entertainment value remains strong in Jack Reacher. Though nothing we haven't seen before, this appealing action mystery thriller offers an enjoyable time.

Paramount's Blu-ray combo pack meets expectations with excellent A/V, two audio commentaries, and a solid 50 minutes of video extras. While not a day-one must-own release, those liking the film won't be disappointed by this presentation.

Buy Jack Reacher from Amazon: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Tom Cruise: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol • The Firm • Knight and Day • Top Gun • Rock of Ages • The Color of Money • Eyes Wide Shut
Written by Christopher McQuarrie: The Usual Suspects | Rosamund Pike: Surrogates • The Big Year • An Education • Made in Dagenham • Die Another Day
Richard Jenkins: The Cabin in the Woods • Killing Them Softly • Dear John • Eat Pray Love • Step Brothers • The Rum Diary • Let Me In
Shooter • Jesse Stone: No Remorse • Ransom • Deja Vu • Looper • Kiss Me Deadly • Salt • Enemy of the State
New: Gangster Squad • Mama • Pawn • Shanghai Noon & Shanghai Knights • The Impossible • The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernαndez

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Reviewed May 9, 2013.

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