Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bad Dude Status: "Jack Reacher"

Beyond that internet meme from Duke Nukem, the title of Bad Dude is something reserved for the most awesome of heroes. Not boy scouts and not anyone with any respect for our “code of law”. These guys are willing to make a boy scout cry if necessary. They have their own law. And if you fall within their jurisdiction...
I plan on, through a series of blog entries, explaining why some characters are bad dudes, why some are not. Maybe doing this will reveal something wonderful and/or sickening about us as an audience. To help me out will be fellow critic and purveyor of the exploitative, The Cine-Masochist! Enjoy:

My first RedBox rental - something I had been putting off for a long while - was the Tom Cruise production of the Tom Cruise starring Jack Reacher. The poster spoke to a very primal side of me: a serious looking man in front of a cityscape with the American flag superimposed over it. The ad team could’ve easily put some explosions on it, or a gun in Tom’s hand, but no need. He IS the weapon. He IS the danger. He is so much these things, that the title needs to only be his name. Damn. 

Is Jack Reacher a Bad Dude?
First off, who is he? In the movie, Jack has a ghost like mystique about him. He’s a drifter, only appearing when he’s been called upon. He wears only one set of clothes per mission (that he gets at Goodwill) and “borrows” cars when he needs them. I don’t think he has an I.D. in his wallet, or a wallet at all (please correct me if I’m wrong). All he needs are his abilities. He is THAT confident, and you should be THAT scared.
The kind of villains he’s up against are quite villainous. We have a military sniper and a man known only as “Prisoner Human Being”, played by the one and only Werner Herzog. When someone fails him, he offers a choice of either being shot or proving to have the will to survive. How? By chewing off your own finger. Normally, they just prefer to be shot. “Always the bullet. I don’t understand” he says. It’s been said that you can judge your hero by the nature of the villain. In this case, our hero better have his stuff together.
Beyond being a loner and up against a stone cold baddie, Jack can walk the walk and, almost more importantly, talk the talk. When needing to interrogate a witness, a desk clerk asks to be shown some I.D. Jack has a counter offer to “show” him the back of an ambulance. When backed into a corner, Jack says, over the phone, “I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot.” And not in an angry manner, but an “as a matter of fact” way.
When he drives a car, he makes sure the engine purrs like a kitten. When he fights, he makes sure to leave a mark and an impression. When he shoots, he rarely misses. And when he misses, he’ll make you suffer.
Jack Reacher can be seen as nothing but a vanity project; an effort by an A-list actor to claim dominance and pound his chest. Yes, this is that. Everything in this is only meant to supplement Tom and his bad assery. It might be the most blatant example of it in his whole catalog, and should probably be disliked because of that. Only if it didn’t work. Watching a character whose only development is that he can wreck anyone and anything is just so entertaining. There really isn’t anything being said about the act of vengeance, the concept of justice or anything that could illuminate an audience. It’s got atmosphere, tension, danger and moxy without bothering to worry about pathos. Ironically, that one thing that could’ve put this movie over the top would’ve held it back some. And nobody holds Jack back.
So, does Jack Reacher in Jack Reacher achieve Bad Dude status? Here's CM:

First off, thank you for having me in mind, Bill!

And in regards to Jack Reacher? Yeah! HELL YEAH! definitely a Bad Dude.
This is a character that reflects on the days of old, the action heroes of the 80's and early 90's that were brutal, cunning and got the job done. This no nonsense approach has really been making a resurgence lately, with films like Dredd, Jack Reacher and of course, The Expendables. I think audiences are craving this in the action films they go see, proving that characters like Jason Bourne, just...don't quite cut it as bad ass action heroes.
I mean hell, look at the Daniel Craig Bond films! Even James Bond has been pumped with a dose of Bad Dude status. He's big and strong, and absolutely wrecks people's shit. Action fans want that escapism, they want to root for this larger than life Bad Dude, and Jack Reacher gives them that.
I hope that makes sense, and again, thanks for having me!

Status - ACHIEVED 

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