What does a 12-A rating mean? Don't ask the general public
The British Board of Film Classification received more complained about Tom Cruise's 12A-rated Jack Reacher that any other movie in 2013, with the thriller receiving 26 in total.
Jack Reacher gets his gun wet
The 12A rating seems to be a source of immense confusion for audiences; according to BBFC director David Cooke, only 27% of the 10,000 people surveys understood the classification. This lead to many people believing the content in Jack Reacher was not suitable for 12-year-olds. Cooke intimated that he sympathised with the parents that complained, saying: "It's inherently a slightly more complicated explanation than most… parents are far better placed than us to judge whether a particular film would give their child too intense an experience or not".
In an official statement, the BBFC said: "Despite a number of reductions made to scenes of violence to achieve a 12A certificate, those who contacted us considered the film too violent, dark and sadistic for 12-year-olds, and inappropriately presented the hero as a vigilante figure.” The rating means that children under the age of 12 must be accompanied to the film by an adult.
But, because the comparatively low amount of complaints overall, The BBFC were satisfied that the majority of people who watched the film were satisfied with the rating it received. "The overall tone and treatment of the violence is similar to recent 12A action films such as the Bourne series," states the BBFC's annual report.
The regulatory body affirmed: "The film is occasionally gritty and realistic, but the overall tone and treatment of the violence is similar to recent 12A action films such as the Bourne series,” while concluding, "Brief sight of sexual penetration during a rape scene was thought to heighten the sense of violation, encouraging viewer sympathy, rather than arousal."