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Posts Tagged ‘Jack Reacher’

The HuntThe marketing for the movie The Hunt tells us: “The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen”.  The studio, Universal Pictures pulled its release last summer.  It had already drastically scaled back the marketing following a mass shooting in America.  The Donald Trump (who I understand had, not, and has still not, seen the film) got involved accusing the producers of inciting violence.  Having now seen the film, it is neither inciting or provocative, it is actually a run of the mill action thriller within a sub-genre that crops up from time to time.  The modern twist is the hunters are “Woke” liberal elites who are truly horrible, and the prey are call “deplorables”, basically people who have expressed less than woke views.  the film is fun and has some interesting ideas, but isn’t cutting enough to be a true satire on modern society. The Hunt

The first film of the genre was probably The Most Dangerous Game (1932) based on Richard Connell’s short story of the same name.  Anyone who has seen Zodiac (2007) will remember the reference to this movie, if the events of that movie are to be believed it even provide inspiration for the real life Zodiac killer. It has also inspired filmmakers for nearly 90 years with numerous, copies imitators and remakes. The idea was even used for an episode of The Avengers (The Superlative Seven) and is spoofed in The Simpsons (Treehouse of Horror XVI).The Most Dangerous Game

Made in 1932 parts of the movie look dated, the most notable of these are the use of close-ups of exaggerated facial expressions, a clear hangover from the silent era. The movie starts onboard a ship, all exterior shots are clearly a model and not up to the standard of King Kong (1933) that it actually shares a lot with (including one of its directors, sets and cast). Other than this the movie stands up really well and is wonderfully atmospheric. Due to the relatively low production cost it actually made more money than the better known King Kong. Coming in at only a fraction over an hour the movie is incredibly short, but its stripped down simplicity is to its credit.

A Game of Death (1945) directed by Robert Wise is a direct remake of The Most Dangerous Game, shot towards the end of WWII, the madman is a Nazi, not Russian.A Game of Death

The Tenth Victim (1965) is an Italian Sci-Fi entry to the genre featuring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress.  “The Big Hunt,” is a televised competition with contestants who must survive five rounds as a hunter, and five as the prey. For years a hard to find obscurity, it is now available on Amazon Prime in the UK (complete with a terrible dub).  The Tenth Victim

One of the most interesting and controversial examples is the excellent Punishment Park (1971) shot as a bleak mockumentary. Punishment Park

Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle based on a Stephen King story (as Richard Bachman), The Running Man (1987) looks far more satirical and incisive in today’s world of reality TV than it did back in the day. The Running Man

One of my favourites of the genre: Hard Target (1993) is possibly the only Hollywood film by John Woo to live up to the bonkers fun of his Hong Kong movies.  Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a man down on his luck hired to find a missing man, he soon finds himself in the same “Most Dangerous Game” headed up by Lance Henriksen.Hard Target

This was closely followed by Surviving the Game (1994) with Ice-T as a A homeless man hunted by Rutger Hauer and Gary Busey. Surviving the Game

Battle Royale (2000), and its sequel (2003), Series 7: The Contenders (2001), The Hunger Games (2012-15), The Belko Experiment (2016) all take a slightly different angle, as the prey are also the hunters, forced to kill each other. 

While Predators (2010), features and extraterrestrial hunter, it fulfills most of the tropes of the genre, even more so than other films in the series.  Predators

Revenge (2017), is also worth a look.  The setup is very different, put it soon finds itself in familiar  territory with a few interesting twists along the way. Revenge

Finally, if you fancy a different medium, take a look at the Jack Reacher novel Past Tense (2018) by Lee Child.Jack Reacher Past Tense

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Last movie of the month for 2012 and it features Life of Pie, a movie that has already made my top ten of the year.  will it be my movie of the month?  

Sightseers: A comedy that about a caravanning couple on a killing spree. Not as fucked up as director Ben Wheatley’s previous film Kill List. The humour is dry and jet black, not for everyone but I loved it.Sightseers

Life of Pi: I was a little skeptical about seeing this movie, I had heard it was a bit preachy and how interesting can a film about a boy in a boat be? I also hate 3D. I shouldn’t have worried, as previous mentioned; the 3D is the best I have ever seen, the story is great as well as being stunning to look at.Life Of Pi

Seven Psychopaths: This film was always going to be compared to director Martin McDonagh’s previous film In Bruges, it isn’t as good but does have its moments and is worth watching for Sam Rockwell alone.Seven Psychopaths

The Man with the Iron Fists: Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA makes his directorial debut with this ‘Quentin Tarantino Presents’ martial arts pastiche. Taken on its own merits it isn’t terrible but I would rather watch an old Woo-ping Yuen or Toshiya Fujita movie. Russell Crowe is really wooden and should be banned from attempting English accents.The Man with the Iron Fists

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: I was sceptical about Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth, particularly turning 310 pages into nine hours of cinema. It is too long and it isn’t as good as The Fellowship of the Ring, but it is still really good and enjoyable. Martin Freeman is possibly the most perfectly cast hobbit to date.2012, THE HOBBIT -  UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Jack Reacher: Like so many successful book to film adaptations Jack Reacher takes the cliff notes of the book and finds its own way from A to B. It has its problems, but Tom Cruise’s height isn’t one of them.Tom Cruise Jack Reacher

Pitch Perfect: Collage drama about an a cappella singing group. It doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been done before. Rebel Wilson is funny and deserves her own vehicle. Anna Kendrick is as great as ever but is better than the movie deserves.Pitch Perfect

Movie of the Month is:Life of Pi

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The simple if flippant answer to why Tom Cruise was the right choice to play Jack Reacher, is that no one can play Jack Reacher, so he is good as anyone. People have been giving reasons why Tom Cruise is the wrong person to play Jack Reacher since before I knew who Jack Reacher was, it actually turns out he was a pretty good choice. As previously mentioned back in June I had only read one Jack Reacher novel back in June when the trailer hit. I have now read another eight and am halfway through a ninth including One Shot, the book the novel is based on. As is widely reported Reacher’s vital statistics include:JACK REACHER

Height: 6′ 5″, 1.95metres
Weight: 220-250 lbs/100-113 kg
Size: 50-inch/127cm chest, 3XLT Coat, 37-inch/95cm Inside leg

The problem with casting a character by height is that you could be blinded by one aspect of the character forgetting all the other characteristics. Tom Cruise is a charismatic and talented actor with a track record in playing action heroes. Had the character been around and the movie been made in the late 80’s early 90’s it is conceivable that Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been cast because of size and reputation when Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis would have been a better choice. The success of the movie could open the door for Jack Reacher becoming a franchise like James Bond, and like Bond it could be reinvented with lose continuity and new actors taking the character in new directions.jack-reacher

As for the movie itself: The plot is simplified and a few characters have been removed to be replaced by a car chase but the basic idea of the original novel is still there and the car chase isn’t bad. There is device within the books whereby the twists and turns of the plots are signposted so the readers are always one step ahead of the characters. This and a lot of the twists and turns of the plot have been removed, depending on your point of view it is to the credit or the detriment of the movie. As an adaptation, it does a good job, avoiding the pitfalls of either throwing the original text out, or even worse being a slave to it. Instead it takes the core structure and essence of the book, the cliff notes for what of a better term, and finds its own way from A to B. Tom Cruise may not be that recognisable as Jack Reacher to die hard fans of the books but the essence of the character and his actions are there.

Lee Child’s cameo in the new Jack Reacher movie

Lee Child’s cameo in the new Jack Reacher movie

If you are still not happy, who else could play Reacher? Here are my top ten more height suitable actors ( in order of height):

Kevin Durand 6′ 6″
Adam Baldwin 6′ 4″
Liam Neeson 6′ 4″ (too old)
Alexander Skarsgård 6′ 4″
Chris Hemsworth 6′ 3″ (too young but give him ten years)
Idris Elba 6′ 2¾”
Hugh Jackman 6′ 2½” (was considered for the part)
Will Smith 6′ 2″ (was considered for the part)
Nathan Fillion 6′ 1½”
Denzel Washington 6′ 0½” (too old)

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In 1997 Mike Myers gave us Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, a movie that made a mockery of James Bond. How could Bond continue after this?The simple answer, in the Pierce Brosnan era Bond became as silly as the spoof. Then in 2002 around the time Brosnan was making his last appearance as Bond in Die Another Day the game really changed with The Bourne Identity. Bond took a four year break and returned as a younger rougher Bond in Casino Royale played by Daniel Craig. Despite the reboot, there is still a sense that Bond belongs in the 50’s and 60’s and not in the present day.

Powers Bond Bourne Reacher

As good as the Jason Bourne trilogy was, it was always just that a trilogy. The critical, financial and artistic failure of the Bourne Legacy proved that. Largely plot driven it couldn’t adapt and evolve the way Bond has, but then no other film series has. Bruce Willis is John McClane, and there couldn’t be a Die Hard movie without him. The same goes for Riggs and Murtaugh/Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Next year, Chris Pine will be the fourth actor in five films to play Jack Ryan but they have always felt like separate films and not a coherent series. Mission: Impossible has the scope to be rebooted and is set up in such a way that other characters can be introduced without the need to recast existing ones. There has been a suggestion that William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) introduced in the latest film Ghost Protocol has been suggested as a replacement for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) but is it the new Bond? Probably not but it does lead on nicely to Jack Reacher, a film franchise that could be the James Bond for a new generation. I am not talking about a replacement for Bond.

Dirty Harry Jack Ryan John McClane Riggs and Murtaugh

Bond as a character is showing no sign of going anywhere but that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for a new action hero franchise. The screen incarnation of Bond has been with us for fifty years, longer than most people who read this article have been alive. It has always updated itself in an effort to stay relevant but is at its best when it has one foot in the past as M said in Golden eye “I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War”. This is why there is room for a new hero one who, one conceived in a world after Vietnam, the cold war and 9/11. I’m not totally convinced that that character is Jack Reacher but it stands a chance. The controversy over the casting of Tom Cruise who is too old and too short (by ten inches) and worst of all too famous to play Reacher may just work in its favour. If cruise can establish the character over three or four movies it will have the chance to be recast and reinvented in future the way Bond has been.

Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher

Who is Jack Reacher? Starting with Killing Floor in 1997 Lee Child has already written more novels than Ian Fleming. Unlike Bond, Reacher isn’t a spy with the backup of the British movement and the “Q” branch. Reacher is a former military policeman who has taken to drifting around America. Along the way he gets into various scrapes and ultimately ends up helping people in a sort of Kwai Chang Caine way. Totally lacking any sense of remorse but with a strong sense of morality and a compulsion to help people the character is very clichéd, this isn’t a criticism.

Lee Child’s cameo in the new Jack Reacher movie

So will Reacher be the new Bond? No, and if the filmmakers try to turn him into the new Bond it will be a missed opportunity for a new franchise. Since its reboot a few years ago Bond took a step towards Bourne but always kept its own identity and that’s that Jack Reacher needs to do, forge its own identity in a crowded movie schedule.

  • Skyfall is released on 26th October 2012 in the UK and two weeks later in North America.
  • Jack Reacher is released on 21st December 2012 in the USA and on Boxing Day in the UK

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Name: Jack Reacher (no middle name)

Born: 29th October

Height: 6 foot5 inches, 1.95metres

Weight: 220-250 lbs/100-113 kg

Size: 50-inch/127cm chest, 3XLT Coat, 37-inch/95cm Inside leg

Eyes: Blue

Distinguishing Marks: Scar on Corner of left eye, scar on upper lip

Education: US Army base schools in Europe and the Far East; West Point Military Academy

Service: US Military Police, thirteen years: first CO of the 110th Division: demoted from Major to Captain after six years, mustered out with rank of Major after seven

Service Awards: Top Row; Silver Star, Defence Superior Service Medal, Legion Of Merit. Middle Row: Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star, Purple Heart Bottom Row: ‘Junk Awards’

Last Known Address: Unknown

Family: Mother Josephine Moutier Reacher, deceased, French national; Farther, Career US Marine, deceased, served in Korea and Vietnam; Brother, Joe, deceased, five years in US Military Intelligence, Treasury Dept.

Special Skills: Small arms expert, outstanding on all man-portable weaponry and hand-to-hand combat

Languages: Fluent in English and French, and Passable in Spanish

What he doesn’t have: Drivers Licence: Credit Cards: Federal benefits: tax returns: dependents

So says the preface to the Jack Reacher novels.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Lee Child’s creation Jack Reacher. In fact I have only read one of the many (16 with a 17th later this year I believe) novels, and that was only a few weeks ago. I was only vaguely aware of the character when I was given a copy of book Worth Dying For (2010) and that was mainly because of the chatter about the film version. I actually enjoyed the book, in a disposable pulp way and will probably read a few more of them in time.

The knives have been out for Tom Cruise ever since it was announced last July that would play Reacher. Most of the issues surround Cruise’s height. Is it a problem with Cruise personally or just his height, I remember similar complaints when it was announced that he would play Lestat in Interview with the Vampire but not a word was said when the 6′ 2½” Hugh Jackman was cast as 5’2″ Wolverine. I suggest people give the guy a break and wait and see how the movie turns out.

Its worth remembering that movies and books are two different mediums and stories that work on paper don’t always translate well to the screen. This is why many movies differ greatly from their source novel. Take the Bourne trilogy, one of the best action movie series ever made. The movies are hugely different from the original Robert Ludlum novels and as such Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne is very different from the one in the books. Another interesting example is James Bond. The early bond films starring Sean Connery where relatively faithful to the original Ian Fleming novels but with a very different Bond in the shape of Sean Connery. Then quarter of a century later Timothy Dalton took over and gave us a character more like the one intended by Fleming, unfortunately all the good source material was used up. We then had to wait another twenty years for the Daniel Craig reboot before we saw it again. 

Lets not forget Tom Cruise is a credible action star, just look at Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. If the movie works, go with it, ultimately it will probably be rebooted within a decade! I’m certainly prepared to give it a go.

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