Review: Jack Reacher
PLOT: After a violent sniper attack the police department quickly locates their man. However when they try and make a deal with the accused, he simply asks for them to contact “Jack Reacher.” Once this enigmatic stranger shows up, he teams up with a beautiful defense lawyer to find out the truth behind the crime.
JACK REACHER seemingly came out of nowhere. The character was adapted from Lee Child’s novel “Jack Reacher: One Shot,” Tom Cruise saw an opportunity with this property and ran with it. Sure this mystery thriller may be mired in clichés and unbelievably convenient opportunities for Cruise’ anti-hero to get ahead, in fact it oftentimes feels like a pilot for a brand new series next fall. But who knew it would be so much fun?
In the big screen adaptation, Cruise – who is also one of the film’s producers - brings his trademark charm to Jack Reacher. He is confidant, cocky, and has the dramatic chops to make it believable enough. Reacher is a nomad of sorts. He has no records and he has no history, but he is the guy that you want on your side if you are in trouble. He also happens to be the guy you seriously don’t want to f*ck with. Once this ex-military investigator arrives to examine a sniper shooting, he comes to the conclusion that it is far too perfect of a crime.
One of the key factors that really work in JACK REACHER is Cruise himself. He is especially good here and seemingly comfortable in the role. Not that it is necessarily much of stretch for him as Reacher feels as it if was tailor made for the actor. The same can be said about his co-star. The lovely Rosamund Pike - as a young defense lawyer working for the accused gunman – is quite good and she has instant chemistry with her leading man. The two actors have quite a bit of witty repertoire back and forth. This surprising amount of humor between them adds a level of enjoyment that helps keep this mystery involving.
Director Christopher McQuarrie – who also adapted the screenplay from the novel – creates a decent level of suspense here. Occasionally the movie suffers from a dull spot here and there, especially when Cruise and Pike are not on screen. As fantastic of an actor as Werner Herzog may be, his creepy character “The Zec” is far too cartoonish to be very terrifying. Thankfully one of his henchmen, Jai Courtney from the Showtime series “Spartacus: Vengeance” is an intimidating brute. He isn’t quite as contrived as his boss and he feels a tad more threatening. It is also nice to see both Robert Duvall and Richard Jenkins in smaller roles class this up a bit.
I did like McQuarrie as a director. Not that there is anything all that inventive here, yet he does make a few inspired choices. One of the best scenes in the film features a car chase with Cruise, the police and the henchmen. It is far-fetched for sure, but it is near edge-of-your-seat exciting. Aside from the effective action set pieces, there are occasional shots that seemed to be inconsistent with the scene in progress but it still worked. Considering this was only his second feature, the director is able to keep things moving well enough.
As far as the script is concerned, it is hard to take much of this seriously. That however is not as bad a thing as you’d expect. In many ways this feels like a John Grisham flick with a little more winks and nods. Sure the opening sequence is more than a little unsettling due to the nature of the sniper attacks, but the film lightens up soon after. That is not to say that it doesn’t get a little dark at times. One scene features Herzog intimidating a young thug into possibly doing a little self-mutilation, this is pretty disturbing stuff. Yet with every cringe worthy PG-13 rated act of violence, the mood is lifted enough to let the audience breathe and remind us all that this is simply a popcorn flick, albeit an entertaining one. In the end, I enjoyed JACK REACHER enough that I’d be happy to see this turn into a franchise for Mr. Cruise.