Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Murder Mist with a Twist

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If you have been longing to see a fascinating murder mystery unwrap in front of you, this is the film you cannot miss.

Coincidentally being a movie about mass shooting in Pittsburgh that took lives of five innocent people and scheduled to come to big screens on December, 15, right after the day of the Sandy Hook shooting, the release of Jack Reacher, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who has written the screenplay for The Tourist (2010) and The Usual Suspects (1995), was postponed till December, 21. Due to its unusual twist, the fact that from the very first scene the audience knows who the real killer is, this murder investigation keeps us in suspense all throughout the movie.

All the evidence points to James Barr (Joseph Sikora: Safe, The Best Man for the Job), an ex-sniper, who continued exercising in his shooting even after his release from the army. Still, for the audience, it is clear up front that Barr is not the one who pulled the trigger, even though his estranged look screams "psychopath." However, Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo: The Help, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and the District Attorney, Alex Rodin (The Rum Diary, Hall Pass), are convinced by the mist of evidence that he is guilty, and they offer him an alternative: to sign a confession, or to face death penalty. Instead, Barr asks to get Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol), who served along with Barr and knows his most terrible secrets.

Easier said than done: Jack Reacher is not the man one can find. After leaving the army, Tom Cruises's character literally vanished from everyone's sight. As he himself explains it, "I'm the man who wants to be left alone." He is a myth, a superhero and an embodiment of justice, who puts truth above the law, and being good at combat and attentive to details, and with a little bit of luck, he succeeds at yet another mission impossible.

There is also an additional plot twist: the defense attorney is Mr. Rodin's daughter, Helen (Rosamund Pike: Devil You Know, Surrogates), a pacifist, who is trying to save Barr from death penalty, even though she herself is not convinced of his innocence. No one except Jack Reacher, an ex-army, who agrees to assist Helen Rodin as a lead investigator, gives Barr the benefit of doubt. As Reacher and Ms. Rodin work together on Barr's case, we expect a love story to develop, but we never get one.

In fact, it seems that there is no story at all: there was a murder, and a clear suspect is in custody. Where will all this go? At the same time, we keep wondering how everything came together so perfectly against Barr and how it will get resolved in the end. One piece of the puzzle at a time, we learn the terrible story behind: the murders were not random, and Barr was made a scapegoat. At the same time, what Reacher tells Ms. Rodin about Barr is not in the inmate's favor; on the contrary, it makes him even less likable. And still, we want the true justice for the man, just like Reacher and Helen Rodin do.

The problem is, the more pieces of the puzzle come together to form the correct picture, the more people disappear.

In addition to the plot, which unwraps gradually and keeps the audience members holding on to their armchairs, the movie is done with a touch of humor, which despite the tragic events, makes the viewers smile here and there. Some of the assailants in the movie are clowns rather than real gangsters; they think they are professional murderers, but they are, in fact, unskilled cowards, who cannot take down their target. In a way, they are gangster parodies.

Similarly, Barr is just a cold-blooded assassin parody. Jack Reacher, who knows Barr well enough, doubts both his shooting skills he thinks little of, and the carelessness with which he supposedly committed the massacre. We feel pity for him in the end because he doesn't remember where he was during the crime and even believes he was the one who committed it. At the same time, this makes us ponder how safe it is to have trained killers walking around with guns and no recollection of their actions.

And finally, despite the fact that the whole movie is built around violence, for the most part, it is not explicit or bloody. As the mist around the murder clears out and we are afraid for more lives to be lost, we get a feeling of satisfaction that there is someone, a myth like Jack Reacher, who wants to do real justice where law is helpless. 

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