Look, I'm not going to sit here and bash the heck out of Tom Cruise. I know most people seem to be down on him these days, what with all his crazy Scientology antics and divorce from Katie Holmes, but the fact of the matter is that he makes some darn good movies from time to time. From Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July to action films like Minority Report and Collateral, Cruise repeatedly stars in quality, big budget films that are highly successful and therefore he's a superstar.
You can now add Jack Reacher to the list of quality films that Cruise has been a part of. With this new character he has potentially kicked off what could become a franchise for him and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we are going to get a series of sequels involving Jack Reacher.
Based on a series of novels from author Lee Child, in particular his 2005 book "One Shot", Jack Reacher is set in Pittsburgh where it begins with a crazed sniper shooting five strangers seemingly at random. This may be fairly disturbing and unsettling for many people to watch in light of what has happened recently in Newtown Connecticut. I know my mind couldn't escape thinking of that horrific tragedy. Unfortunate timing aside though, it is just a movie and should be judged as such.
When an ex-Army sniper named James Barr is arrested for the crime he reveals nothing to the authorities other than scribbling the words "Get Jack Reacher" on a notepad shortly before winding up in a coma. Of course the hard to track down ex-military investigator Reacher shows up looking for answers since this case seems to be open and shut. He agrees to team up with Barr's defense attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) and the deeper he digs, the more he realizes that this case isn't as simple as he, the lead detective (David Oyelowo) or the district attorney (Richard Jenkins) - who happens to be Helen's semi-estranged dad - had hoped. What follows is a series of twists and turns that Reacher must overcome as he seeks the truth which eventually leads him to a showdown with a criminal mastermind known only as "The Zec" (Werner Herzog).
Jack Reacher is like a throwback to the type of action movies from the 1970's. It isn't an over-the-top, special effects laden film, instead choosing to include tightly edited fight sequences that showcase how stealthily efficient Reacher can be, as well as a thrilling, prolonged car chase through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh with Cruise screeching his tires and revving his engine in a badass muscle car that will remind many of the famous scene in Steve McQueen's Bullitt. Director Christopher McQuarrie (writer of The Usual Suspects) does a fine job moving the film along fluidly and maintaining a fairly dark tone.
Cruise does a solid job here, portraying Reacher as a no-nonsense badass with a steely cool demeanor. He just wants to blend in and go unnoticed, even choosing to use nothing but pay phones everywhere he goes. He is very secretive but not someone to be messed with. Hopefully future sequels will deal a little more with his past to flesh out his character a little bit more.
The rest of the cast is solid as well, including a fun supporting role from Robert Duvall who pops up towards the end of the picture as a gun range owner who becomes an ally to Reacher. I would have liked to have seen more of Werner Herzog as the villainous "Zec," but what we get from him is sufficiently creepy.
Overall I would say that Jack Reacher is a fine piece of entertainment providing enough twists to keep the viewer engaged and plenty of action to prevent any semblance of boredom. It's a fun film that should definitely appeal to anyone who likes their action films to be gritty and more hard hitting.
Ignore your dislike of Tom Cruise and check out Jack Reacher.
I give Jack Reacher an 8 out of 10.