On The Edge Films

Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds

Jack Reacher

2012/USA

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall

Jack Reacher is the on-screen adaptation of Lee Child’s novel One Shot, the protagonist of which this film gets its namesake from. Any trailers you may have seen for it may have led you to the conclusion that this is going to be a generic conspiracy action thriller.

Let me stop you right there – I’m going to put pay to those concerns. I gather from various conversations I’ve had that I’m not the only one who had ideas of Tom Cruise playing another Ethan Hunt-esque role and as a consequence, disregarded Jack Reacher after seeing the trailer for the first time faster than you could say “Mission Impossible”. That was silly of me. Luckily, I’d seen the first instalment in the aforementioned film franchise a few days beforehand for the first time and thought “What the hell. I’ll give it a shot.”

The premise of Cruise’s character is hardly an unfamiliar one (mysterious ex-military man goes rogue) but he has a personality and a mission all of his own. Jack Reacher is called to a hospital by an old acquaintance from his army days who has just killed five seemingly random people. However it’s made crystal clear to the audience from the start that there’s more to this apparently simple case than meets the eye.

Reacher teams up with the defendant’s attorney (Pike) to get to the bottom of things but the further the two dig, the more trouble they find themselves in and the more insidious the conspiracy becomes.

Action is a little sparse before the climax but when there is some, its effect is not wasted. Between these scenes are moments of gripping tension and game-changing revelations to engage you and the best thing is that unlike a lot of conspiracy thrillers these days, the plot is relatively easy to follow as opposed to needlessly convoluted and doesn’t rush along at breakneck speed until you’re throwing your arms up in the air and wishing death on every character in the film for making you suffer so much boredom. One example of what I’m talking about is the ordeal that was 2011’s Unknown starring Liam Neeson but you and I both know there are more. Do not misunderstand me, Jack Reacher will have your mind following it intently throughout as it becomes clear within the first twenty minutes or so that even the smallest, apparently insignificant detail can count – it just doesn’t bore you by being horrendously complex in a misguided attempt at being intelligent.

This is Cruise on top form and is the best in a fair few quality performances including Rosamund Pike’s as a conflicted attorney and D.A.’s daughter. Opposite him is Jai Courtney who plays the menacing lieutenant to the Zec who ticks all the prerequisites of a classic Bond villain portrayed perfectly by German actor Werner Herzog. The characters are well-varied and in the case of the Zec presented with an almost supernatural aura of evil – rich splashes of colour to Jack Reacher’s canvas that make it such an enjoyable flick.

My one gripe is a single plot-hole shaped scene where bystanders help Reacher escape the police, having no understanding of who he is and why he’s wanted by the law in the first place. He could’ve just burnt down an orphanage full of disabled children and they’d have just helped him get away with it. Nice work, guys. Maybe they were just huge Tom Cruise fans or scientologists looking out for one of their own. Who knows?

Anyway I’ll forgive that one hiccup because the film, as a whole, is very entertaining.

Superbly written with razor-sharp dialogue cropping up on a regular basis, Tom Cruise giving a terrific performance as the intriguing Reacher that is just a joy to sit back and watch it be the delivery of something deep that outlines his character’s philosophy on life or the delivery of GBH on baddies in impressive action stunts performed by the man himself. Naturally.

Jack Reacher is a man more believable and interesting than many of his action contemporaries, who’ll take you on an adventure through conspiracy and treachery right up until its tense, fulfilling conclusion.

I’d be happy to watch it again right now.

4.5/5

-Saul Nix

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