Tom Cruise Scores as the Strapping Jack Reacher

In his 2005 novel One Shot, writer Lee Child lays out nine rules for surviving a five-against-one alley fight, a challenge his hero, the ex-Army cop Jack Reacher, is about to face. These include "Be on your feet and ready." "Identify the ringleader." "Don't break the furniture." Rule number nine is the most important: "Don't run head-on into Jack Reacher. Not when he's expecting it. It's like running into an oak tree."

As fans of Child's 17 (and counting) Reacher novels know, the drifter hero is 6-foot-5, which means that to bring this oak of a man to life onscreen, the comparatively diminutive Tom Cruise (5-foot-7) would have to overcompensate with some serious tough-guy glowering. That was the expectation, anyway. Instead, when surrounded on a dark Pittsburgh street by five fools who've been paid a hundred bucks each to beat him bloody, Cruise's Reacher gives a wry "you asked for it" shrug, then puts the five down. Effortlessly. Convincingly. Cruise is definitely too short for the gig, but in this first fight, he proves his tough-guy chops. Outraged Reacher readers can stand down.

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (co-writer of The Usual Suspects), Jack Reacher opens as a sniper is setting up in a car garage directly opposite PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In a sequence that calls to mind the cold, heartless grace of a Brian De Palma (Blow Out, Dressed to Kill) set piece, we see what the killer sees, and wince as the rifle scope glides left, right, and then left again, as that killer chooses, seemingly at random, who will die. Six shots ring out; five humans fall.

Details

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Based on the novel One Shot by Lee Child. Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, and Robert Duvall. Rated PG-13.

James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a retired Army sniper, is quickly arrested but won't talk, except to scrawl three words on a sheet of paper: "Get Jack Reacher." As the detective in charge (David Oyelowo) and the district attorney (Richard Jenkins) wonder aloud why Barr has asked for a former military policeman who has fallen off the grid, Reacher walks through the D.A.'s office door. This on-cue entrance is indicative of a jokey tone McQuarrie maintains throughout the film, as if to let us know that neither he nor Cruise are taking this lone-hero stuff too seriously.

It turns out that Reacher despises Barr, but he can't resist helping Barr's idealistic defense attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike, aces). After retracing the killer's steps, Reacher begins having doubts about Barr's guilt, and once those five thugs come to beat him senseless, it's clear that there's a conspiracy afoot.

Just why the bad guys are doing what they're doing remains a bit of a muddle at the end of Jack Reacher. Still, logic is rarely the point in movies like this (and the novels that inspire them). There's much to enjoy here: a goofily funny hallway fight between Reacher and two thugs best described as "Dumb" and "Way Dumber"; the unlikely sight of revered film director Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn, Cave of Forgotten Dreams) portraying an evil villain who chewed off his own fingers in a Soviet gulag. And there's the clear delight passing between Cruise and his Days of Thunder co-star Robert Duvall, who ambles into the third act in time to keep McQuarrie's relatively light touch from giving way to Reacher's grim screw-the-courts brutality.

If none of that works for you, then obsess over the joy master cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Black Stallion) must have taken in bouncing light off Rosamund Pike's resplendent blond hair. Should a beat-'em-up action flick be this beautiful? Follow the light, Jack; follow the light.

 
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4 comments
iLeprechaun
iLeprechaun

I never read the book and for me this movie does perfectly well what it proposes, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is the man who everyone wants to be, every entrance is spectacular, every word and move distill coolness, confidence and utter perfection, even when he is caught off-guard(rare events, 1 - Having his head bashed by the two goofies, 2 - Walking into a fight scene with a car, backwards, with a broken mirror[seriously, genious]) his luck helps him to sort his way out, and when in need of help(after leaving a chased car to casually walk up to a near bus station) he has the instant charisma required to garner help from casual passers-by.


He is the definition of alpha, he distills success everywhere.

btw nice review

iLeprechaun
iLeprechaun

I never read the book and for me this movie does perfectly well what it proposes, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is the man who everyone wants to be, every entrance is spectacular, every word and move distill coolness, confidence and utter perfection, even when he misses(rare events, 1 - Having his head bashed by the two goofies, 2 - Walking into a fight scene with a car, backwards, with a broken mirror[seriously, genious]) his luck helps him to sort his way out, and when in need of help(after leaving a chased car to casually passby a near bus station) he has the instant charisma required to garner help from casual passers-by.


He is the definition of alpha, he distills success everywhere.

btw nice review

iLeprechaun
iLeprechaun

I never read the book and for me this movie does perfectly well what it proposes, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is the man who everyone wants to be, every entrance is spectacular, every word and move distill coolness, confidence and utter perfection, even when he is caught off-guard(rare events, 1 - Having his head bashed by the two goofies, 2 - Walking into a fight scene with a car, backwards, with a broken mirror[seriously, genious]) his luck helps him to sort his way out, and when in need of help(after leaving a chased car to casually passby a near bus station) he has the instant charisma required to garner help from casual passers-by.


He is the definition of alpha, he distills success everywhere.

btw nice review

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

Please Tom Cruise is so un-Jack Reacher like, I refuse to watch this movie. Fuck Tom Cruise. Fuck his company that bought the rights. And Fuck him for desecrating a good book series just so he could have fantasies about being Reacher. 

 

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