I’m not sure what level of recommendation it is when you say a film was better than you thought it would be, but there it is. After having read a few of Lee Child’s novels featuring the mysterious hulk of a lead character called Jack Reacher I was one of the people excited when I heard that a film would be made based on the book One Shot by Child and then quickly disappointed when I read that Tom Cruise would be taking on the lead role. Just like when he was cast as Anne Rice’s Lestat this reeked of horrid miscasting. Tom Cruise, especially physically, was nothing like the character, but after seeing the film I have to say that whatever the problems are with it the least is Tom Cruise. Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but it is my bottom line.
A sniper (Jai Courtney – A Good Day to Die Hard) makes bullets and then drives to a downtown parking garage. He takes out his gun and starts picking off people one by one in a park across the street. After he has killed five he drives away in a white van.
Lead investigator Emerson (David Oyelowo – The Last King of Scotland, Lincoln) uses the parking garage video to find the sniper. The man they arrest, whose name is Barr (Joseph Sikora – Shutter Island, My Best Friend’s Wedding), just writes “Get Jack Reacher” on a piece of paper during his interrogation.
Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise – Top Gun, Minority Report) is a former military man and was a highly respected if not liked military investigator. Reacher seems to have lived the past couple of years off the grid wandering around the United States. While Emerson and the Assistant District Attourney are wondering how to contact him Jack Reacher arrives.
Reacher finds out that Barr is in a coma after being beaten by fellow prisoners. He was not a friend of Barr’s actually he wants to help bury him. Barr’s lawyer is the daughter of the District Attourney, (Richard Jenkins – The Visitor, Step Brothers) Helen (Rosamund Pike – Die Another Day, Pride & Prejudice – 2005). Reacher tells Helen that Barr was the type that joined the army for a legal means to kill people. He became a sniper, but was never able to kill. The war was over. Reacher tells Helen how Barr had killed civilian contractors. He got off because the contractors had been on a rape rally, raping many women from ages 54 to 11. Army made it go away rather than the truth come to light. Helen still tries to convince Reacher to be her lead investigator. She succeeds.
A man is following Reacher as he begins the investigation. Helen’s father warns her that she cannot win the case. Reacher figures out that two of the five seemingly random victims were connected. He and Helen come up with a theory that one of the victims was intended while the others were just to cover it up. Now that they think that Barr is innocent the danger level is really upped. Despite the risk the two continue trying to get to the bottom of things.
Some critics raked this film over the coals. I think they allowed personal feelings for Mr. Cruise cloud their judgment. Now, usually I am the first on the trash Tom Cruise bandwagon, but it has to be for merited reasons. In Jack Reacher though he is not physically the massive character that Lee Child created he is in every other way up to the challenge of portraying the intelligent investigator. He certainly captured the essence of the character that Lee Child constructed in his novels.
Cruise does a good job and the plot is fairly good and cohesive. There was also the required amount of suspense required by this type of film and an intimidating bad guy. Director Christopher McQuarrie (The Tourist, Valkyrie) keeps the pace pushing forward at a nice clip. Yes, some of the dialogue and one liners were on the cheesy side, but they usually are in films like this. Like a breath of fresh air it does not rely on explosions or tons of CGI to create the action scenes. It has an old school feel to it. It is not trying to break any new ground and is the type of thriller/action film we haven’t seen in a while. I, for one, could do with more films like this.
-When the Man Comes Around
-You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons
-The Reacher Phenomenon
-Commentary by Tom Cruise and Director Christopher McQuarrie