Even having made enough dosh to cast a shadow over the Burj Khalifa he so happily danced around in the most recent Mission Impossible, it seems that one franchise-based gold mine just doesn’t cut it for Tom Cruise. Jack Reacher is the star’s latest, spawning from Lee Child’s best-selling book series and, whilst this hero is no rope-swinging daredevil like Ethan Hunt, he’s still a good guy audiences will like to see more of.
Adapted from One Shot (the original title of the film), director Christopher McQuarrie has the flame burning slowly to begin with and for the man who penned The Usual Suspects, it’s best advised to let him. With the opening few minutes having no dialogue whatsoever, we witness five innocent people killed by a mysterious sniper who pins the crime on another man. Regardless of whether or not they have the right guy, lawman David Oyelowo and D.A. Richard Jenkins’ apparent open-and-shut case is quickly halted when the suspect gives a name that’ll bring a world of trouble. After being put through the system it reveals an ex-military myth who sounds like the fifth member of The A-Team. Indeed, if you have a problem, if no one else can help and if you can find him, maybe you can hire Jack Reacher.
Of course what with our hero being so very badass, Reacher has already caught the scent of this recent shooting and knows that something doesn’t smell right. So begins the introduction to a one-man army that means trouble for any law-breaking baddie in a 12 mile radius and it’s a character the leading man relishes playing.
As soon as Cruise shows his face (well rather the back of his head), it’s clear that Reacher comes from the guilty pleasure section of the library, transferring just the same on screen albeit for some physical tweaks (originally Reacher is a 6ft something blonde tower of a man and Cruise well, isn’t). Hated by men and loved by any women that manage to catch a glimpse of him, Reacher is the embodiment of every action hero stereotype you can squeeze in. Brawling like Bourne, ditching dames like 007 and making phone calls that could even have Taken’s Bryan Mills hanging up, Reacher is an action hero destined for fun Friday night viewing. Having said that, there are times when Reacher slowly starts to become too much of a good thing.
Amidst the bar brawls and sharp witted interrogations delivered by Cruise, there really feels like there’s just too much attention paid to the wonder that is Jack Reacher and not enough on the supporting cast that store some pleasant surprises. As mad as it is to see him in front of the camera rather than behind, Werner Herzog’s dead-eyed, soft spoken villain, The Zek is so deliciously chilling he deserves his own volcano lair and fluffy white cat. Equal praise must also fall on newcomer and soon-to-be McClane Jr. Jai Courtney as crafty henchman Charlie who, after clearly being able to carry some screen presence alongside Cruise, should have no trouble when it comes to A Good Day To Die Hard. Honourable mention must also go to the underused Richard Jenkins and Robert Duvall who, let’s face it, can give great performances standing on their heads. The same can’t unfortunately be said of Rosamund Pike who, despite filling the spot of defence attorney in distress (and Jenkins’ onscreen daughter), lacks the required chemistry with her leading man. However, these hiccups are minor and understandable for a film built for a potential franchise intended to run purely on Cruise control.