“Tom Cruise isn’t six-foot five and he doesn’t weigh two hundred and fifty pounds. He’s more like five foot seven and probably weighs a buck fifty.” That was the response I got when I asked my movie partner-in-crime if she wanted to go see the latest Tom Cruise actioner, Jack Reacher with me. He may be 50 years old and on the shorter side, but I’ll be honest, I like his movies. Especially his action movies. He handles them well and the previews to this one had me from the get go. I was determined to go with or without my cohort. I have never read any of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books so I didn’t have any type of preconceived notion on the character. However, I’m sure enthusiasts of the books would say differently. The question here would be whether or not Cruise could pull it off and make both those who have read the books and those who haven’t happy with the final product.
Adapted from Child’s 2005 story One Shot, the film begins when a sniper shoots and kills five people in Pittsburgh, PA. The police are able to track down and arrest the main suspect, but after the suspect asks for him by name, Jack Reacher shows up to conduct his own investigation. Reacher ends up working alongside a woman named Helen, who happens to be the District Attorney, and as the pair dig into the meat of the case, they find that the case is much more complicated and sinister than what was previously thought.
Since I don’t have any knowledge of the source material, I can’t compare the two. Which is probably a good thing. Speaking just about the film itself, the story serves as a solid introduction to the character and the world he inhabits, and there are twists and turns along the way that keep the film moving at a decently brisk pace. The previews may have portrayed this to be a film born in one-liner heaven, it actually wasn’t….thankfully and even though the film carries a PG-13 rating, it didn’t tread the waters of cheesy or campy, but instead went with darker tones. While the rating prevented the use of graphic violence, the implied violence it did have worked much better in getting its point across.
The rest of the supporting cast all do their jobs well, with a couple of standouts. Jai Courtney, who plays Charlie, one of the villains, gives the film, and Reacher for that matter, its villain in a nice, menacing package. While there wasn’t a lot of room for Charlie to be a fully fleshed out character, Courtney plays the only character who can physically go toe to toe with Reacher. Werner Herzog also pops up briefly as “The Zec”, who happens to be the villain behind the villain. The Zec is the real menace and his calm exterior is what’s frightening.
Rosamund Pike (Helen) plays the District Attorney who is forced to be an active participant in a case for the first time in her career. She’s both strong yet vulnerable, but manages to not cross into the typical damsel in distress territory. This film also stays away from the trite love story territory that so many other movies seem to feel the need to jump in to. While there are scenes that make you think it’s headed in that direction, it wisely changes course. Richard Jenkins is always a pleasure to watch, but the biggest prize was the small but entertaining role that Robert Duvall played. Seeing Duvall onscreen with Cruise again was a treat and even though their previous film wasn’t the best, the two definitely shared a chemistry that hasn’t diminished in 22 years. Yes it’s been that long.
Christopher McQuarrie, who served as both writer and director and whose only other directing credit is 2000′s The Way of the Gun, manages to deliver a solid, tense action film. It delivers on both the car chase and fisticuffs fronts and the part I liked the most was the fact that McQuarrie smartly filmed both without the use of a musical score. The main car chase scene reminded me a lot of the scene in Bullitt with its lack of music. You don’t realize how effective it can be until you actually watch it.
One other thing I noticed, and I don’t know if this was intentional or not, were the subtle nods to a few of Cruise’s other films peppered throughout. I won’t go into detail because I hate to ruin a good surprise, but keep your ears open. I like to think that they were there on purpose but I’ve not been able to find anything that says so or otherwise.
Overall Jack Reacher is an entertaining, effective action film even though Tom Cruise doesn’t quite fill out the physical traits of the character’s book version. The film itself if a good start to what could potentially be yet another action franchise for Cruise, provided the following films manage to deliver like this one did. I imagine that the film may not appeal to those die-hard fans of the written version, but the casual movie goer, or even die-hard action fan, should walk out of the theater pleased with the result.
He may be fifty years old, and he may be showing a bit of age here and there, but honestly, Tom Cruise still manages to deliver the groin-kicking action goods, and he looks good doing it.Tags: Christopher McQuarrie, Jack Reacher, Jack Reacher Review, Jai Courtney, Lee Child, One Shot, Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, Tom Cruise