Jack Reacher (2012)


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.

new 3 star okay

23 responses to “Jack Reacher (2012)

  1. I found this a mediocre action picture and would probably give it the same grade. I found Herzog’s character kind of cartoonish and thought Duvall should have been given better material. Nice review.

    • Yep it was just a three for me. I really wondered what that character had to offer, pointless. Duvall was good and lots of characters like that in reacher books. Thanks ck!

    • yeh, pretty much. I have read some real harsh stuff written about but it’s not that bad, just not great. I like Cruise so I always tend to give him a go.

    • yay, I hooked one! excellent news to see someone liked it as well as me. It was okay for me and better than some of the bad stuff that’s been written about it IMO. Thanks Chris.

  2. Nice review. The action scenes, even though there are only three, are really intense and exciting. Some people might not like that there are only three action scenes, but I was fine with it because of how interesting the rest of the film was.

    • yay another one, I’m on a roll ‘ere 😉 glad to see some love for it. there were few scenes in it and should have been more. They could have made that guy out of the latest die hard, well a bit harder and maybe couple of extra fights, but Reacher basically kicked their ass too easy, but he is the man I guess. There was decent intrigue in there too. Thanks man 😉

    • exactly, it does pretty much what you would hope. I really think if they would have used The Killing Floor, would have been even better. I consider myself a Cruise fan. 😉

  3. Thankfully I never read the books, so Cruise’s “shortcomings” (Lol) never bothered me. Just judging it as a film though, the movie has some issues. The “plot” and the villains are really weak, but Cruise, the character, and the unexpected awesomeness of Robert Duvall showing up halfway through made this movie pretty watchabale. Nice review Kev, I concur!

    • yay! The first couple of books are good TBH but in stature they’re worlds apart, Reacher is a beast. The villains are really weak yes, didn’t see the point of Herzog at all apart from his dodgy eye!? Duvall is always awesome isn’t he and it was pretty watchable. I could look at Pike all day too. 😉 Thanks my man!

  4. Glad you enjoyed this one, I actually gave it a bit higher rating as it actually exceeded my expectations. But yeah, that bit about the character in the book being 6 foot 5 inches is funny, I initially made fun of Cruise being cast here but like you said, he always walks tall when doing action. I like the fact that this one is more than just a mind-numbing shoot-em-up.

    • He’s an easy target isn’t he ever since Oprah and the couch! He is a bit bonkers but I like and always respected him for his interaction at premieres. The books aren’t to everyone’s liking but I like em. Reading number two again at the mo. the reachers are far more intelligent than they’re given credit. the movie just tried to satisfy to many things but I liked it. Thanks Ruth hope you enjoy discovering Star Trek 😉

  5. I liked this a lot. It reminded me of the action movies of the ’90’s, like Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Not all action over story like we tend to get now in action films.

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