The first Jack Reacher reviews are in - and the verdict is...
JACK REACHER is coming to a movie theatre near you in just a few short weeks, and if the advance reviews collected below are any indication? There is every chance that JACK REACHER will be more than a one shot and expand into a brand new franchise for star Tom Cruise despite the initial controversy surrounding writer/director Christopher McQuarrie's decision to pick him to play the character of Jack Reacher.
And speaking of controversy, I'd like to say something about the discrepancy that fans continue to note between Cruise's physical build and the description of Jack Reacher in Lee Child's books: I don't think the frustration lies in the fact that Cruise and Reacher are so different, so much as with the fact that it changes the way Reacher as a character interacts with the world around him. A 6' 5" brute enforcer-type is going to fight differently, move differently, and love differently - it's just the way things work. His body is different, so he'll do things in his own unique way. And he's not the sort of character we've really had as a hero on screen before, which is what previously established fans of the book and character have been lamenting. I think? Someone out there please correct me if I'm mistaken.
And with that said, on to the reviews!
First up we have some excerpts from the review published by The Hollywood Reporter, with comparisons made to BULLITT and THE FRENCH CONNECTION:
"Jack Reacher is an old-fashioned type of guy -- he doesn’t use a cell phone or credit cards, he travels by bus -- and the first film adaptation of one of Lee Child’s Reacher novels has a correspondingly gritty, low-tech, real-muscle appeal. Tom Cruise might not be the 6-foot-5 rock described in the books, but he makes the title role fit him like a latex glove in a winning turn that could spawn a popular new franchise for the star, if public reaction to Christopher McQuarrie’s film is as strong as its fun quotient warrants... While the plot is not complex — it’s simplicity itself compared to McQuarrie’s labyrinthine classic The Usual Suspects — it nonetheless provides the tasty satisfactions of sturdy mystery thrillers of yore, in which you know things are not what they appear and you’re happy to be led by a capable expert through a maze of obstacles and suspicious characters to a satisfying denouement...
Said suspicious characters begin to accumulate when five stupid guys challenge Reacher to a fight outside a bar after he allegedly has dissed their friend Sandy (Alexia Fast). Big mistake on their part; Reacher takes them down in a bone-crunching display of scary combat techniques. It’s the first of several intense physical encounters in which Cruise puts on an impressive show of quite credible mano a mano skills, which, refreshingly, are not edited in a flurry of cuts designed to obscure either an aging star’s inadequacy or the participation of a stunt double...
McQuarrie provides satisfactions with the surprise casting of director Werner Herzog as a creepy bad guy, introducing Robert Duvall as a late-appearing key character and setting his action climax at night in a visually arresting quarry that carries the connotations of both a wartime battlefield and an ancient combat arena. The writer-director, whose behind-the-camera skills have jumped considerably since his debut on The Way of the Gun a dozen years ago, delivers the narrative and the visuals with clarity, dispatch and style, aided greatly by Caleb Deschanel's bracingly sharp cinematography, Jim Bissell’s nuanced production design and on-the-mark editing by Kevin Stitt that never calls attention to itself and helps 130 minutes go by in what feels like less than two hours."
Next up is Total Film, with a review that is equally praiseworthy of the movie itself and the performances of both Cruise and Werner Herzog:
"Unquestionably, the casting of Werner Herzog is the masterstroke. Although not a first for the German director, never has he been in such a high-profile Hollywood film... enrolling Herzog as the villain is inspired thinking on McQuarrie’s part; that unmistakable Teutonic brogue that’s graced so many of his documentaries elicits multiple shivers when it’s welded to the character of The Zec. A chilling, ruthless creation, with not an ounce of pity in his bones, Herzog delivers his lines with absolute cold-hearted malice. As for Cruise, he may be shorter than the 6ft 5in Reacher of Child’s books – a topic that vexed some fans – but that doesn’t deter from one of his most intense, determined performances in recent memory.
A superior thriller, with Cruise and McQuarrie slotting together like a bullet in a clip. Like Reacher on the firing range, the aim isn’t always true – but the misses are fractional."
Less enthused by Cruise but still completely on board with Herzog's performance and the action on hand, Variety had this to say in their review:
Reacher is a brawny action figure whose exploits would have been a good fit for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone back in the day, but feel less fun when delegated to a leading man like Tom Cruise. The star is too charismatic to play someone so cold-blooded, and his fans likely won't appreciate the stretch... he comes across as more of a weary boy scout, snuffing much of the energy that makes him so appealing. Whereas the hyperkinetic actor looks best on the run, Reacher is a slow-moving, six-and-a-half-foot enforcer -- the kind of guy Cruise should be outwitting, not playing... The only pleasure this man takes is in punishing bad guys, and behind this particular scheme lurks a wonderfully evil Werner Herzog, whose rare acting role more than justifies the price of admission for fans of the heavily accented director.
Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie's challenge ultimately centers on finding ways to distinguish his mostly derivative script, based on the kind of guilty-pleasure read one buys at the airport and leaves on the seat. The setup may be clunky and the character a cliche, but the film looks terrific (courtesy of d.p. Caleb Deschanel), and somewhat redeems its silliness through action, featuring several satisfying hand-to-hand altercations, a tense car chase and a well-staged climactic shootout in a gravel quarry.
And, of course, here is the requisite smattering of Twitter reviews to cap things off:
Noelia Fernández @noe_cherokee
Well done sir @tomcruise#jackreacher Laughed more than I thought I would! You definitively keep the action going; kudos to Duvall too!
James Klein @bazun
Amazing conversation with @TomCruise tonight at the #JackReacher premiere, maximum respect for him and a fabulous film!
Gemma Pranita @GemmaPranita
Had fun representin’ for the boy at the London #JackReacher premiere. Go see it y’all! It’s brilliant! pic.twitter.com/vvrmWusa
Hugo Taylor @hugo_london
#JackReacher is a great film. @TomCruise was brilliant. Surprisingly funny and very violent. Worth a watch if you like that type of thing.
Gary Mancini @Indiana_
@TomCruise#JackReacher was awesome. One of the best action films in years. Highly recommended! Well done to all involved #JackReacherUK
So there you have it! General consensus seems to say "go see this movie!" Which begs the question: when December 21st arrives, will you?
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|Extra Tidbit:||Variety also made the point that the dialogue and descriptions in Lee Child's books seem to be much better suited for an R-rated adaptation, and that JACK REACHER suffers for fixing itself to the extra box office returns that can come with being PG-13.|