A slow, solid crowd-pleaser that achieves its middlebrow ambitions, starring Tom Cruise
Thirty years on from Risky Business, Tom Cruise is still a potent force in Hollywood, and launches a potential new franchise as Jack Reacher, the ‘top shelf army cop’ from the bestselling books by Lee Child. Adapted from Child’s book One Shot by Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects and Cruise’s Nazi drama Valkyrie, Jack Reacher is a slow, solid crowd-pleaser that achieves its middlebrow ambitions.
The converse of the tortured soul that Cruise played in Eyes Wide Shut, Jack Reacher is a self-possessed ladies man, a macho throwback to 80s action heroes, and the name written on a sketchpad by ex-army sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora) before he’s left in a coma by a police custody beating. Idealistic lawyer Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) is defending Barr, who is accused of shooting five innocent Pittsburgh office-workers with his own home-made bullets. An ex-military drifter with a fierce sense of justice, Reacher disputes the charges against Barr, but his unconventional methods lead to direct conflict with local cop Emerson (David Oyelowo) and Rodin’s DA father (Richard Jenkins). Reacher’s investigation also leads to a crime ring headed by the mysterious Zec (Werner Herzog) and soon Reacher’s troublemaking sparks a full-on turf war.
Despite a couple of big action highlights in the form of a manic car chase and a quarry-siege finale, Jack Reacher is considerably more small-scale than Cruise’s Mission Impossible sequels, more violent, and managing to replicate the forensic detective work that makes the novels work. The romance between Cruise and Pike, however, is so cheesy as to be verging on parody, and at odds with the grim tone of McQuarrie’s film. As a vehicle for Cruise, Jack Reacher isn’t an entirely comfortable fit, but makes for an undemanding slice of thick-ear mainstream entertainment.
General release from Wed 26 Dec.