I’ve never read any of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books. I didn’t know anything about the character or what to expect. The one trailer I saw for the film, and other marketing materials, did nothing but make Jack Reacher look kind of generic. The trailer even made me question if Tom Cruise could sell the tough as nails character he set out to play. However, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie’s involvement peaked my interest and I respect the hell out of Tom Cruise as an action star so I hoped for the best. I went in with slightly lowered expectations and found myself having a really fun time with Jack Reacher.
What I didn’t expect from the movie was to find that Jack Reacher is bit of an amalgam of John Rambo, Sherlock Holmes and Parker. He can take a guy (or multiple guys) out with precision and brute force and he doesn’t take crap from anyone. He’s also quick to observe and analyze and can see things that others may not take the time to notice. In fact, the Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery and detecting was an unexpected but welcome element of the film and held my interest all the way through even if it felt a little shaky here and there.
Tom Cruise does a great job playing the leading man and his performance goes a long way in making the film work. He may not share the larger physicality that Reacher has in the books (or so I’ve heard) but he makes the best use of his movement and demeanor to create an imposing and threatening character. Reacher is also a surprisingly funnier character than I expected and Cruise capably delivers the dry quips effectively. The most enjoyable interplay in the movie came in the scenes involving Cruise and Rosamund Pike as lawyer Helen Rodin. They shared some pretty great chemistry and I thoroughly enjoyed their flirty banter that never gave in to the expected outcome of two people attracted to each other. Cruise also shares some fun screen time with Robert Duvall who plays a former Marine that runs a rifle range. They have some pretty entertaining moments between the two of them as they team up together for the last act of the movie.
Another cast member mention must go out to Werner Herzog who plays the villain, The Zec. Herzog is pretty fantastic in the role of the bad guy as he comes off really creepy. You can feel your bones shudder just a little bit when The Zec speaks about his origins and biting off his fingers to survive. He doesn’t add much in terms of an imposing physical force but what he lacks in that department he definitely makes up for in just coming off as one disturbingly evil son of a bitch.
Jack Reacher feels a bit like a throwback to the films of the 70s. Reacher is a character that could fit well in that era of cinema as a loner with great bravado and the car chase, a standout section of the film, felt influenced by some of the great car chases that came out of that time period. Jack Reacher’s persona is the driving force behind the film and the element that will have you wanting more Reacher films. I, for one, would definitely be open to more stories involving Jack Reacher and hope the film does well enough at the box office to warrant further adventures. If you are on the fence about the movie like I was, I’d say not to worry as the film is much better than it is marketed. It’s thrilling, funny and packs a mighty punch for those looking to watch a badass character dish out his own version of justice.
by Ben McBride