Jack Reacher (2012), which from now on will be referred to as Werner Herzog as Villain, is the adaptation of the sixth book in Lee Child’s wildly successful series of thriller novels. I feel much the same way about Werner Herzog as Villain as Homer Simpson does about the film Man Getting hit by Football in one of my favourite ever Simpsons episodes. Other films may have more heart, action and better scripts than Werner Herzog as Villain, but Werner Herzog as Villain has Werner Herzog as villain.
Unfortunately, having Werner Herzog as villain was not quite enough to save Werner as Villain for me. Nope, not even the most inspired piece of casting I can recall saves this film from its flaws. Things start relatively promisingly too, with a brutal opening featuring an indiscriminate sniper attack. Also, Richard Jenkins shows up and I do love me some Richard Jenkins. But before too long the really shitty script begins to make itself known and takes things over. Tom Cruise shows up too, bringing very little with him to be honest. He is meant to be a total badass, but he just couldn’t pull it off. He just has this really smarmy presence, which is weird because I thought that Reacher was meant to be more of a salt of the earth, ‘everyman’ type of guy (that was definitely the impression I got from the only Reacher novel I read). The only couple of good moments were included in the trailer, leaving essentially the only reason to watch the movie the fact that Werner Herzog is the villain. The film is just so bloody long too. Seriously, a film like this really only needs to be 90 minutes or so, but this just keeps stretching out far over the 2 hour mark.
Just to be clear though, the fact that this Werner Herzog as Villain has Werner Herzog playing the bad guy is as incredible in practice as it is in theory. His Herzogian voice just makes for such an iconic character and he brings something decidedly disconcerting to the role. Herzog has a cracking villain face as well and his character works well. Because if anyone can play a character who ate his own fingers and make it seem believable, it is Werner Herzog (we’re talking about a man who once ate his own frickin shoe). Herzog genuinely brings an intensity to proceedings that is sorely lacking from the rest of the film. If only Tom Cruise in the titular role brought anywhere near that level of presence. Indeed, the only other actor who is on Herzog’s level in this film is the charismatic young Aussie Jai Courtney as his main henchman. This is the first role I have seen Courtney in, but let’s just say I was very impressed, and it gives me a lot of hope for his upcoming turn as John McClane’s son in A Good Day to Die Hard (2013).
If you are a huge Werner Herzog fan like me, Werner Herzog as Villain is probably worth your while. Even then, just wait for it on Blu-ray and in all seriousness you could just fast forward through any scenes not featuring Herzog and you would not miss much. For everyone else though, don’t even bother at all. The woeful script and general averageness of the rest of it does not really make it worth the effort.
Verdict: Schooner of Carlton Draught
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I actually don’t even know who Werner Herzog is. But I always scoffed at the ads for this movie on TV b/c it looked so generic; and like you said Tom Cruise was supposed to come across like this total bad-ass, but with his pretentious little snarks every other glance just made it eye-rollingly lame! lol.
I like “Collateral” Tom Cruise much better who DID come across like a bad-ass and that’s b/c the character spoke with his eyes first, and kept his words to a minimum. THAT is the epitome of an intimidating character.
Haha, fair enough. Herzog is a German director who has been around since the 70s. Has made some incredible feature films and docos too. He is known for being eccentric. He once lost a bet and ate his own shoe, that kind of eccentric.
You’re right, Collateral Cruise was pretty badarse. I haven’t liked him in anything recently. Too smarmy onscreen.
Having Werner Herzog as a villain didn’t help this movie out.
It helped it slightly. But only ever so much. It was basically utter arse besides him.
Love that Simpsons episode haha 😀
Yep, tis one of my favourites too.
I thought Jai Courtney was the best thing about this movie. Not that I didn’t like the rest it, I just felt the movie couldn’t decide if it wanted to be more of a comedy than action like Knight and Day or gear toward the mystery/action like the Bourne Films.
Yeah you’re right. It was a little uneven in tone. I just couldn’t buy a lot of this film, including Tom Cruise. So besides Herzog and Courtney, I didn’t take much enjoyment from it.