When it was announced that Tom Cruise was set to play one of the best loved characters in modern crime fiction there was a little apprehension. Many fans claimed that Jack Reacher was too dark, mysterious, tough and even too tall to be played by Cruise. Regardless Cruise, who seems to be throwing himself into his work since the split from Katie Holmes, soldiered on and Reacher came to the big screen.
We open with scenes of a man preparing for what we begin to realise is going to be a lone gunman taking pot shots at random people. The scenes are a little harrowing as people drop to the floor randomly, and considering events in the states in early December 2012, you can’t help but wonder if perhaps there is a message to those in the US who are addicted to their guns. Indeed the film itself was postponed in the US as it was due to be released the day after the Newton School massacre and the storyline will no doubt have been considered too close to comfort for many.
Jack Reacher himself is a great character. A highly decorated soldier who served in the Military Police as a homicide detective, he’s also a bit of a loner and a trouble maker. You know the type; they’re the atypical tough cop/exceptional detective that appear in almost every crime movie you’ve ever seen. OK, Reacher is no longer a cop and the idea behind his persona isn’t new but Cruise plays the almost uber-intelligent trained killer with a couldn’t-care-less attitude and smouldering good looks really well.
As Reacher is hired by do-good lawyer, Rosamund Pike, to investigate the shootings the story attempts to lead the audience into believing that the Pittsburgh cops have already got their man. A little patronising really as obviously this isn’t the case otherwise a very short film this would be and the marketing behind the film has already laid the foundation that the accused has indeed been framed. It’s quite good though, even if it does water down the impact, to watch Reacher himself look into the case convinced the man in custody is guilty and slowly piece together the evidence proving otherwise.
Now, we’re not ruining the story by saying that, there are still a few classic detective story guessing games that the audience can join in with but this isn’t a film that will test the grey matter too much. While Cruise is a fine actor, no matter what he might be like off set, he’s not going to create a deep and meaningful film. He knows what side his bread’s buttered on and just looking at his back catalogue you know what sort of film this is going to be.
As with any book to film adaptation there are going to be those that are disappointed. Many fans of author Lee Child will have had an idea of how Jack Reacher should look and act and it’s likely none of them would have pictured Cruise. However put those preconceptions aside and you can’t fail to enjoy this film. The good guys, the baddies, the innocent victims and even the motives in the plot are all very formulaic but they do the crime thriller genre proud. An added bonus is the unique character of Reacher himself who can certainly hold his own in a fight, solve a case and throw in a few arrogant one liners for comedic effect too; he’s an almost civilian anti-Bond/Bourne character.
Pike, pregnant while filming, seems to have too many low cut tops for a lawyer who considers herself to be more professional than a sex symbol to justice. David Oyelowo (The Last King of Scotland, The Help, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) plays hardened cop Emerson well and his side-kickesque relationship with District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins) has good chemistry too.
All in all not a bad crime thriller. Good story, good action, some good car chases and a few laughs with enough of a pace to keep the audience satisfied from start to finish.