I’ve not read author Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, but I’ve heard the controversy regarding this film and its star Tom Cruise. The books describe Reacher as a 6’4” brawny military man, and obviously Cruise isn’t any of those things. Regardless, the film Jack Reacher presents a fun franchise for that star that caters to his strengths as an action hero. The film, directed and scripted by Christopher McQuarrie, is light and filled with fun. It’s been awhile since I saw a film that entertained me as much as Jack Reacher did.
When five people are gunned down in a public place, the suspected killer will only talk to one man: Jack Reacher (Cruise). Reacher is convinced of the man’s guilt and goes on a journey to prove it. Things go awry when Jack’s life becomes endangered, along with the life of the attorney (Rosamund Pike) working on the case.
Jack Reacher is one of those films that never try to be anything more than what it is, and in this case it’s an action film. Director Christopher McQuarrie proves his deft hand writing and directing this film, and it is nothing but pure adrenaline. The film’s plot involves five seemingly random people killed, and the concept of a mole pulling the strings. From there the film lays out a two-hour story involving Reacher solving the mystery. The film tries to present Reacher as a man without a conscience which, I must admit, doesn’t pan out completely. Reacher does have principles but everyone he doles out his “justice” to is bad. It would have been better to maybe have him do something unethical involving a character in a gray area. Regardless, the film is filled with car chases, gunfights, and fistfights all of which Tom Cruise is an old hand at.
This is Cruise’s film so if you don’t like him, then I’d avoid Jack Reacher. Sure he doesn’t look anything like the character in the books, but he’s proven again and again how great he is at action. The dialogue allows him to be gruff, charming, and funny at various points, and he has solid chemistry with Rosamund Pike. Pike gets the short end of the stick as the girl attorney who becomes a bargaining chip in the middle of the film. Again, you never feel her life is in danger, and she really just shows up to recite expository dialogue. Werner Herzog is cold as ice as a character called The Zec. He’s enjoying chewing the scenery and I would have enjoyed the film making him a more involved adversary to Reacher.
The flaws of Jack Reacher are flaws inherent in other action movies. There’s really nothing that sets Jack Reacher apart from the countless other action films, even the ones starring Tom Cruise, from each other. The film has a prototypical assassination story involving double crosses and rescued women. Even Cruise driving a cool car and engaging in hand-to-hand combat are old hat for the actor who seems to do that in all his films of late. As mentioned above, I also found that for a character considered so ambiguous, Reacher never disciplines anyone who isn’t a mustache twirling villain. I think Cruise’s nice guy persona really limits him from letting loose and playing an anti-hero.
Jack Reacher is a fun film worthy of your time. If you enjoy car chases, action, and Cruise’s winning smile you won’t feel like you wasted your two hours. Just remember it’s all been done in other movies, so don’t expect anything new.