REVIEW: Jack Reacher

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Jack Reacher
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay), Lee Child (novel)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins and Werner Herzog

Tom Cruise, despite his kooky off-screen shenanigans, is a reliably lively screen presence.  He is a relentlessly physical actor, which is why franchises like Mission: Impossible have become his bread and butter.  With Jack Reacher he attempts, with varying degrees of success, to heighten his on-screen persona into that of a morally vague vigilante.

Reacher is a solid R-rated (or at least it should be) detective story based on a popular series by Lee Child.  Christopher McQuarrie, who adapted the script as well as directed, has some nice action set pieces to work with, but the movie is mostly built around making the star look good.  Action stars like Cruise, like the many cars his character here drives, are fast becoming vintage in the CGI era.  Here he is a blunt, no-nonsense “drifter,” a man who comes to the aid of those who need him and deals out justice how he sees fit.

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REVIEW: Get Low

Get Low
Directed by: Aaron Schneider
Written by: Chris Provenzano & C. Gaby Mitchell (screenplay)
Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and Lucas Black

Get Low, the feature directorial debut from Aaron Schneider, is a lot of things; visually enthralling, emotionally poignant, and terrifically acted are among them.  The hardest thing to figure out about it, though, is whether or not any of it is sincere.

Recluse Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) emerges from the woods after 40 years of near-solitude to plan his funeral.  Nothing too strange about that, until he announces to the planners (Bill Murray and Lucas Black) that he wishes to not only have it while he’s still alive, but sell tickets and have people tell stories about him.  Based partly on a folk tale and partly on writer ingenuity, Get Low traces Felix and his preposterous task and sees it all the way through the ceremony.

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