Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher is the kind of male fantasy character that most men would love to be. He’s cool, confidant and mysterious, with an almost uncanny Sherlock Holmes-like ability to look at someone and know exactly where they’ve been or what they’ve done, plus he fights with the calm assuredness of someone who knows he can’t be beaten, not to mention that women often do a double-take when he’s nearby. What guy wouldn’t want to be Jack Reacher?
Based on a long series of novels by Lee Child, Jack Reacher is based on the book One Shot telling the story of a sniper who appears to be randomly targeting five innocent people in broad daylight in downtown Pittsburgh. After some very smart police work by Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo), the sniper is quickly found and arrested, only the sniper insists he’s not the guy and writes on the confession pad Get Jack Reacher.
eacher (Cruise) is an ex-army Military Police officer. No one knows where he lives or how they can contact him. All records of him in the system are gone and no one knows how he can be found. “You can’t find this guy unless he wants to be found,” the police are told, and yet, Reacher turns up, seemingly out of nowhere, to join forces with attorney Helen Rudin (Rosamund Pike) to clear the sniper’s name.
Much has been in the news of how the premiere of Jack Reacher was delayed out of respect for the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and it was a good decision. Guns are very prominent throughout the film, but particularly in the opening moments when we witness the sniper lining up his shots. The scene is uncomfortable and unnerving and while it’s undeniably effective in keeping us on edge – you’re ready to flinch at any second – the timing of witnessing such a horrific event through the eyes of the killer couldn’t have been worse.
However, once the seemingly random killings are over, the film takes off and turns into an extremely entertaining mystery/thrill ride, and while a lot of it is truly a mission impossible – you won’t believe any of it – it’s terrific adult fantasy fun all the same.
Those who have read the books know that Jack Reacher is a giant of a man. Author Lee Child has described his character’s enormous size as a metaphor for an unstoppable force. Cruise, on the other hand, is considerably smaller. I don’t know if this will change things for those who have read all of Child’s novels, but for someone like myself unfamiliar with the character, Cruise was perfectly fine, and even though no amount of cinema trickery will ever make the diminutive actor look anywhere close to being over six foot, he conveys Reacher’s tower of power strength and determination with ease.
The outcome of the plot doesn’t always make sense – in the end I was never completely sure how certain companies were involved with the sniper murders – but it’s the kind of thriller where the solution behind the mystery takes second place to the action. British actors Rosamund Pike and David Oyelow possesses flawless American accents, it’s fun seeing Robert Duvall turn up in the latter section of the film, and in the end I had a great time. Plus there’s something fun about warning the bad guys what you’re going to do to them. “I am in your blind spot,” Cruise growls on the phone to the film’s main villain, reminiscent of Liam Neeson’s now famous Taken phone speech, “And I have nothing better to do.” Don’t you wish you could be as cool as Jack Reacher?
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 130 Minutes Overall Rating: 7 (out of 10)