Reviews

Jack Reacher

4

Tom Cruise on the trail of a sniper? Well worth a shot

It can be exhilarating to watch when an actor finds a director they click with.

The moment Tom Cruise strides into Jack Reacher, smouldering like an active volcano, that ‘click’ can be heard loud and clear.

It’s been a dozen years since the Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) directed his only film to date – the highly underrated modern western/noir The Way Of The Gun.

In that time, however, he co-wrote the script for the Cruise’s WW2 pic Valkyrie; enough to convince the actor to collaborate on this adaptation of British writer Lee Child’s 2005 thriller One Shot

The ninth novel in Child’s Jack Reacher series, the title bears relation to the sniper’s creed – “one shot, one kill” – a maxim of deadly economy which McQuarrie reflects in a super-lean opening sequence.

A shooter arrives in a parking lot, assembles his rifle and takes down five seemingly random passers-by. But carelessly dropping a shell-casing on the floor, he also leaves a conspicuous fingerprint on the coin he slots into a nearby parking meter.

It doesn’t take the cops long to trace it to James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a former military sniper. Promptly arrested, he refuses to talk – requesting just one thing: Jack Reacher.

A former military police officer (where “every suspect was a trained killer”), Reacher is now a drifter living off the grid – “a ghost” with little in the way of a past or, it seems, possessions (just the clothes he stands in).

“He doesn’t care about proof. He doesn’t care about the law. He only cares about what’s right,” says Barr.

But while that makes Reacher sound like a tagline to an ’80s thriller, his roots lie elsewhere. Part Jason Bourne, part Dirty Harry, Reacher is the outsider-vigilante, an anti-hero who lives a minimalist, monastic-like existence.

The twist – the first of several – is that Reacher is no friend of Barr’s. Rather, he believes the guy is guilty for a crime he committed years earlier but got away with on a technicality.

Yet gradually, as he begins to look at the case in conjunction with Barr’s lawyer, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) – who just for added spice is going up against her District Attorney father, Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) – he becomes convinced the accused is innocent.

From the rather obvious trail of clues leading the police to Barr to the fact that a trained sniper missed one shot (and parked his van in an inopportune location), it seems he’s been set up. But by whom?

What can be said is that a shadowy figure, The Zec (Werner Herzog), a scarred Soviet gulag survivor, lurks in the background, alongside Jai Courtney’s henchman.

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.

Whatever next – Michael Haneke in The Expendables 3?

Still, 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.

But the trouble is, having crafted one of the most potentially memorable screen villains in recent Hollywood history, McQuarrie’s adaptation never quite gets to grips with Herzog, who almost lurks too far in the film’s background.

It doesn’t help that when he finally comes to the fore, in the film’s quarry-set finale, the action is so abrupt he barely has time to register. It’s one of Jack Reacher’s few missteps, in what is an otherwise on-target thriller.

Pike proficiently handles the testosterone-driven universe she steps into, while Robert Duvall arrives late for a welcome cameo.

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.

From buzzing around town in a red Chevy muscle car to beating up a squadron of guys in a bar brawl, it’s Cruise at his most rough-hewn – even if he does find time for a muted smile when a bus passenger lends him a baseball cap to evade police attention.

Prioritising intrigue over body count, McQuarrie keeps the action clean and clinical, even if that troubled finale feels like a Call Of Duty free-for-all.

The Hollywood rumour mill has it that he could be in line to direct Cruise in Mission: Impossible 5; on this evidence, their ‘click’ will be worth hearing again.

Verdict:

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.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • giliuz31

      Dec 10th 2012, 5:35

      5

      SUMMARY From The New York Times bestselling author Lee Child comes one of the most compelling heroes to step from novel to screen—ex-military investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise). When a gunman takes five lives with six shots, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. On interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: “Get Jack Reacher!” So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Jack Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence and a secret to keep. Read more: piratempire(dot)blogspot(dot)com

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    • wibble

      Dec 10th 2012, 14:01

      The lead could've only been more miscast if Reacher was played by Verne Troyer, but the source material is great and I'm heartened by seeing a good review, so I'll be watching it.

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    • Ali1748

      Dec 10th 2012, 19:13

      All the reviews I've read for this seem to be positive.

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    • MillerCrosses

      Dec 10th 2012, 19:36

      But he's not 6'5"! There, now everyone can shut up about it.

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    • Molar

      Dec 10th 2012, 20:21

      And Werner Herzog's got all ten fingers! There! (Have to have read the book to get that reference.)

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    • mbarn1

      Dec 12th 2012, 11:07

      Its a bit silly(thats the right the S word) that people are giving out about the casting here, who could you get that is 6' 5" and 250 pounds to play Jack Reacher that is a good actor?? ok you might be able to get the rock or Dolph Lundgren but my god the film would be a disaster.

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    • Hadouken76

      Dec 13th 2012, 1:10

      GUess what? James Bond wasn't Scottish, Welsh or Irish! Shh....mums the word!

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    • lizburnside

      Dec 13th 2012, 23:07

      I am assuming James Mottram is not a Reacher fan...how many Reacher books has he read, if any? This film is going to go down in history as one of the most grossly-miscast yet. Jack Reacher is 6'5", 220 pounds, not the least bit pretty or even well-groomed, and can turn a barroom dead silent in 2 seconds. And then there's the little bitty Tom Cruise, whose ego has led him to believe he can become Jack Reacher. With his elevator shoes, high voice, little teeny hands, sloping shoulders and general sissy appearance....well...let's just say I'm not going to waste my money. Jack Reacher could be played by Howie Long, Ray stevenson, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe.....well, you get the ideal. non-sissy he-men who are also great actors. Well, I'm not sure about Howie Long.

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    • writerdave87

      Dec 20th 2012, 11:37

      Jesus H Christ, Tom Cruise is short. Seriously. Get over it. Since this was first announced, every one's been whining and moaning and bleating about how Cruise 'isn't reacher', yada yada yada. Cruise liked the books, he had the money to get the film made. By all accounts, the film is actually pretty good. I like the books, and I think Ray Stevenson should have been cast but all these people who never shut up about how big a fan of the books they are and how miscast Cruise is need to get over it and move on with their lives. FYI, Morgan Freeman was terrible casting for Alex Cross as well (although not as bad as Tyler Perry).

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    • Hadouken76

      Dec 20th 2012, 19:36

      Yeah but Alex Cross is a terribly written generic character, so it doesnt matter in the long run.

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    • bugmenot

      Dec 21st 2012, 7:41

      I downloaded this movie from moviesfirecom Its awesome movie!

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    • 2Dglasses

      Dec 27th 2012, 16:29

      As a non-book fan, this was decent enough. Him being short didnt really matter..just two things..can some other film geek watch out for them-at the start when the bag guy chambers the round, they appear to be in backwards. Not a flipped shot-backwards? Anyone? Also-MINOR SPOILERS-did i miss the scene where David Oyelowo explained himself? He just said something like "You'll see why i had to". But i dont remember any such scene.

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    • LSJShez

      Dec 27th 2012, 19:40

      I really enjoyed it. After Mann blew Miami Vice, we need hard edged genre films like this. I, for one, prefer seeing Cruise poking someone's eye out, instead of flying around on wires.

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    • gregperry

      Dec 28th 2012, 3:31

      Sadly, the force-feeding on viewers continues. After the audience and I who saw the trailer for Jack Reacher stopped laughing, I realized a few things. One: HE IS NO STEVE MCQUEEN. Then, I realized I had seen someone trying hard to sell their “star” as someone so tough, it would make Dirty Harry die of laughter–HE IS NO CLINT EASTWOOD. Then, I recalled another cringe-worthy piece of “reporting” from a few weeks ago, that he was planning on remaking The Magnificent Seven, with himself in the lead role, and realized–HE IS NO YUL BRYNNER. But whatever his camp wishes to force-feed us, there are still plenty of cinema-goers who will not be persuaded into believing this film was not a comedy. BTW, another spin piece on him being the “highest paid” last year–is that salary or earnings (makes a difference considering others were paid higher salaries)? Also, this controversy DID occur before, with Ann Rice, who felt “Huck Finn” was playing her character; that controversy was gone, after Ms. Rice was to receive a considerable monetary deal for the adaptation with Cruise. Rock of Ages bombed. MI4 earned most of its money overseas, especially in places such as China, where most well-crafted US action films make a profit, regardless of its star. And why, why–do we have to keep being bombarded with PR-placed “theories” as to whether or not audiences will choose to see his films or not because of what they feel about his personal life? Is it not possible that they choose to not see his films simply because they have little interest or have a distaste for the films themselves? “Doing all his own stunts.” Please. The insurance and production would never allow it. And why not give the credit to his stunt people who are very hard-working, too (and more humble)? Lessons learned: Question what you read now more than ever in this digital age, and don’t be afraid to laugh out loud in a movie theater.

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    • lpt0901

      Dec 28th 2012, 12:15

      I have just watched this film, I enjoyed it. What do we already know about the Jack Reacher film, well whether we like it or not Tom Cruise is not 6'5 and tough if you don't like the film there is going to be another one. But I did like it and I am going to review it on my new work in progress blog at nutsaboutfilm . Com please come read it later today I would appreciate some thoughts and comments.

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    • GeezaFett

      Dec 29th 2012, 0:49

      4

      Happens less and less these days (see the review of skyfall for recent evidence) but for once I completely agree with this review. Jack Reacher is not without it's flaws with the ending in particular not being on a par with the previous 90 minutes or so, but overall I very much enjoyed the movie, perhaps because I couldn't give a toss whether 'our hero' is 3'5" or has some dubious headlines surrounding his private life. Definitely worth a look if you value a couple of hours entertainment over movie snobbery

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    • HarryWild

      Dec 31st 2012, 23:33

      5

      I have not been a Tom Cruise fan and read the reviews on Jack Reacher but went anyways. Not expecting much from is movie based on the reviews. But I was amazed at the performance of Tom Cruise. He was top notch and believable as Jack Reacher. In other words; go see this picture; he is great! I think because a lot of people pass on this picture based on the reviews and some Tom Cruise haters posts; but I think word will spread and hopefully bring this picture will eventually be a box office hit at the end.

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    • xenaclone

      Jan 2nd 2013, 16:40

      Let's see; "6ft 5" or so, 220 pounds, not the least bit pretty or even well-groomed, and can turn a barroom dead silent in 2 seconds". I'd object to the 'not pretty' description, but the actor you're looking for is Adam Baldwin. Could be Jack Reacher in his sleep.

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    • nickaldous

      Jan 2nd 2013, 17:04

      4

      Extremely good crime drama! awesome action beautifully written! Tom Cruise plays a blinder of a performance! if you love action with a thrilling story you'll be a fool to miss this!

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    • Hadouken76

      Jan 4th 2013, 20:56

      Jack Reacher beats off 5 guys? Must. Resist. Entendre.

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    • Ali1748

      Jan 5th 2013, 17:38

      4

      Really enjoyed this.

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    • reggiehammond1

      Jan 13th 2013, 16:24

      I thought this was a pretty good watch. Not generally a Tom Cruise fan but this was a nice film.

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    • ronburgandy24

      Jan 15th 2013, 11:09

      I love the books. As long as I get over the fact that it's Tom Cruise I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Strange casting all the same.

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    • Pedros

      Jan 20th 2013, 18:14

      Possibly the worst character casting of any book to film movie. This version destroys the only main character of the book and therefore renders the movie laughable. If you are a Lee Child fan, stay away from this film and retain your original character. This makes McQuarrie look third class as a director an dcruise a busted flush. I wasted my money seeing this film.

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    • xandernx13

      Jan 28th 2013, 22:28

      I really liked this movie, it's really long 2+ hrs. but the time went pretty fast. I liked how he unravels the shootout and how he figures everything out. It has a good story and good action. It's based on a series of books so hopefully this movie was successful enough to make more.

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    • 60bubba

      Mar 25th 2013, 3:37

      This movie sucked. Did anyone read the book. They made so many changes it was hard to follow. I understood why Tom Cruise played Jack when I saw the opening credits that said Tom Cruise Productions. Lee Child should be p****d.

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