Jack Reacher is a former military investigator who fancies himself a ghost off the grid. The sort of tough guy who you don’t find but finds you. Moving Kung-Fu style from town to town with a strong sense of justice and a “trouble always finds him” way of life, Cruise’s choice to have his Reacher never raise his voice throughout the whole film goes against the Cruise grain to show intensity. It works, making for a calculated and real persona that balances out a character that at times seems to be written a little to superhero-ish.
Director Christopher McQuarrie (Way of the Gun) opens with a very chilling non-verbal 10 minutes sequence of a sniper picking off 5 Pittsburgh bystanders one by one with an eerie realism that, of course, couldn’t help but make me think of our nation’s most recent gun tragedy. When another person who was not shown firing the rifle is brought in for the shootings, the accused asks for Jack Reacher. Hired by the alleged sniper’s lawyer Helen Roden, played by a super wide-eyed Rosamund Pike (Wrath of the Titans), Reacher is on the case.
Like most of my Tom Cruise film reviews, I’ll start off addressing what a huge man crush on the now 50 year old actor I have. Not all of his movies have me giggling like a schoolgirl (cough, cough, Rock of Ages), but for the most part, if you put Mr. Top Gun in a film I’m probably gonna give it my seal of approval. The man makes good movies, and Jack Reacher is one of them. This is a very effective crime thriller with a cool slow burn that definitely owes most of its seal of approval to another strong performance from Cruise.
Much has been said about casting of the 5 foot 7 Cruise taking on the 6 foot 5 brute, Jack Reacher, described in British author Lee Child’s books. I don’t care if Cruise showed interest in a Helen Keller biopic, I’d cast him. Under the production title, A Tom Cruise Production (how clever), Cruise no doubts sees this as another possible franchise to have in his pocket as Childs’ book series now totals 17, with this film being based off the 9th book, One Shot. I for one would welcome more film adaptations.
McQuarrie, who also wrote the script, actually takes his time unravelling this murder mystery. There are twists and turns that keep you on your feet, just enough action sequences, and one pretty decent car chase to hold your attention. A different kind of twist was the brilliant casting of famed German director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn), who puts a little sweet mustard on his performance as The Zec, a dark crime lord with a penchant for bloody knuckles.
Even with the deceiving twists, there were still plenty of genre pitfalls that weren’t sidestepped. Final showdown fights in the rain, an odd waste of the wonderful Richard Jenkins as Helen’s District Attorney father, and plenty of hero dialogue that plays a bit soft at times.
“You wanna know why. I can see it’s eating you.”
I don’t understand how thugs in movies would ever work for a mob boss that punishes you by offing you if you make one mistake. One henchman, who knows what happens to The Zec’s incompetent employees, realizes his fate after he mucks up. Long before he has ever messed up, he should have asked for a transfer or got a new profession; the money can’t be that good. Everybody knows that you don’t want to get a job promotion from Darth Vader; the pay raise just ain’t worth it.
With that said, Jack Reacher is a cool smooth ride that is definitely bettered by having Tom Cruise in the drivers seat.
Take a Drink: when Jack Reacher has a zinger.
Take a Drink: when Helen’s (Rosamund Pike) eyebrows raise up really high.
Take a Drink: when Jack Reacher is on or makes reference to some sort of public transportation.
Down a Shot: when Tom Cruise goes shirtless.