The written page profile of Jack Reacher reads…6 foot 5 inches, 220-250lbs, a 50 inch chest, a plethora of distinguishing marks and a very particular set of skills and decorations; Impressive credentials indeed.
One of popular fiction’s most iconic antiheroes has always been ripe for a movie adaptation with equally pulsating potential movie credentials. Certainly long overdue, the first Reacher – The Killing Floor was first published in 1997 and here big Tom gets to fill the gigantic boots of a literary nomadic badass.
It may seem cheap once more to point out the statured shortcomings of Cruise in playing Jack Reacher, but if you put your head above the parapet (or in Tom’s sub-lofty case, below) you could get shot down; and so he has it would seem, with the apoplectic reception to his casting of the comparable giant.
But a Tom Cruise movie is very much still an event and much credit should to be given to him for at least doing a great deal personally to get this project green lit, here producing too.
So fair play to The Cruiser, I can never get down on him for too long. I just like you too damn much Tom.
You had me at Top Gun!
The source is Reacher number nine – One Shot with Jack arriving in Pittsburgh at the request of a former military colleague, seemingly the prime suspect in a random sniper attack that kills five everyday folk. A bit of delving from the former military police man uncovers more.
Sourcing the One Shot story seems puzzling, not professing to be a fan boy having read only the first three Reachers (there are seventeen in all) I see no reason not to have gone with number one –The Killing Floor. Surely going from the start is more logical. Perhaps One Shot sits better as a singular story if uncertain of take up for sequels? If that’s the reasoning, well it’s no surprise a sequel now looks unlikely, but the marginal success of this movie may have more to do with it.
It’s easy to see why casting Cruise has inflamed the paper loyalists, but when taking a balanced view it’s clear that without him, this Jack Reacher would have been far worse than what some would have it. His star credentials are still undoubtedly dependable.
And Cruise makes good on all the hallmarks of the hard-nosed drifter, while lacking the physicality he still issues plenty of smart lingo, a few beat downs and the brains to match the brawn with keen eyed detective instincts.
The trouble is Jack Reacher doesn’t quite know what to define itself as when trying to demonstrate the multiple skills and mystery of Reacher, with too many elements of the written story crammed into two very long hours; detective work, flirtation with Rosamund Pike’s lawyer, smarts and humour and too many characters either not given enough or too much screen time. Jai Courtney’s often seen henchman is built to be a match for Reacher in a hand to hand finale that doesn’t equal the build and Werner Herzog’s man in the shadows is instantly menacing but grossly underused, underdeveloped and seemingly pointless.
There are plenty of highlights; Pike may get too much time but she is a nice antidote to all the bravado and the late and welcome arrival of Robert Duvall makes for some entertaining buddy play.
Several set pieces serve to demonstrate Jack’s handiness, a bar set-up taken to the street is handled both humorously and roughly by Cruise and a tongue in cheek ambush by floundering henchman makes for some hilarious slapstick with equal brutality.
A loud and throaty muscle car chase, devoid of any musical score is a clear dynamic highlight along with a brilliant shifting through the cross hairs opening that takes aim on the mystery assassin’s strewn targets.
The twisting plot too makes for some intriguingly built detective work but the sub plotted inside man of either DA Richard Jenkins (making for some loyalty interplay with daughter Pike) or Cop David Oyelowo, is totally predictable.
The intrigue works mostly from Christopher McQuarrie’s script and his direction is effective, particularly with plan view shots, through the scope views and well-handled action. The overall build meanders sometimes cleverly, sometimes undefined to what is a disappointingly predictable ending that doesn’t deliver the booming send-off the movie really needs.
Overlong, saggy in parts and too many villains who barely have Jack break a sweat, Reacher is rescued from being as average as some would have it by another varied action turn from Cruise that delivers humour, intrigue and some superb, if infrequent set pieces.
Whether Tom reaches high enough is Irrelevant. The fact is Cruise always walks tall when doing action.