A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims. The crime takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The perpetrator is easily found, but claims to be innocent. His only instruction to the police is “Get Jack Reacher”
Reacher is a hard man to find. The police discover he is an ex Military Policeman and reportedly an excellent investigator with a spotless service record. After leaving the army, Reacher has dropped off the grid. No one knows where he is. Fortunately he finds his way to Pittsburgh and gets involved in the sniper investigation. He’s that kind of guy. A modern Knight-errant if you will.
Lee Child’s popular drifter/detective character Jack Reacher has been adapted into a feature film called JACK REACHER. The story is based on the ninth Reacher novel, One Shot. It is worth making the point at this juncture, that if you are acquainted with Reacher from the books, you will have to jettison much of what you know about the character in order to enjoy this movie.
Book Reacher is often the tallest guy in the story, has dirty blonde hair and a muscular physique. Movie Reacher is played by Tom Cruise who certainly knows all about bulking up for a role, but is the physical opposite of the Lee Child character. Book Reacher is a man of few words who often uses his silence to make others talk. Movie Reacher is a chatty character, mainly because long moments of watching Tom Cruise stare a confession out of an opponent are unlikely to play too convincingly.
Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie has some strong credentials in the action genre. He wrote and directed WAY OF THE GUN (2000), wrote THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) and Tom Cruise’s VALKYRIE (2008). He has also been announced as writer/director for the upcoming MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 5 (2015). JACK REACHER is his second feature as director and he does a very solid job adapting One Shot to the screen.
I was not acquainted with the books before watching the movie and so I found Reacher to be a more interesting version of the kind of alpha male heroes that Mr Cruise likes to play. Although he is gifted with a Holmesian deductive ability and eyes sharper than any CSI team, Reacher still needs to think his way through the crime in order to solve it. If you enjoy watching the hero unravel the mystery, then there is a lot a pleasure to be found here. The action is meat and potatoes stuff, but McQuarrie throws in smart or unexpected moves in every sequence and that keeps things interesting.
Cruise is very entertaining in this role. He didn’t surprise, but he seems somehow relaxed and completely on top of his game. Often you can feel the sheer hard work in a Cruise performance, but not here. Rosamund Pike plays defense attorney Helen Rodin, with more or less one expression, stunned disbelief. The ever-reliable Richard Jenkins plays her father, the District Attorney and Robert Duvall puts in an enjoyable turn in the second half of the movie. Director Werner Herzog also has a small acting role.
JACK REACHER is middlebrow fun and a definite cut above holiday movie fare. It opens today in Australian cinemas. I rated it a 7/10