Six shots are fired into a crowd. Five people are hit. Five people are killed. The suspect asks for a man named Jack Reacher. Reacher knows the suspect is a former military sniper and knows he would never miss when he took a shot. Therefore, Reacher goes off to investigate. Thus begins Jack Reacher, the film adaptation of the Lee Child novel One Shot, the eighth book in his ever popular Jack Reacher series, and even though I haven’t read a single book from that series, I certainly plan to because Jack Reacher is a nonstop flow of action movie and crime drama goodness that never lets up in its 130 minute runtime.
You can jump on the bandwagon and complain that Tom Cruise isn’t in any way fit to play Reacher, the six-five, 250 pound ex-military cop. Go ahead. I won’t stop you. All I can do is ensure you that Cruise does his absolute best as the law repelling yet justice enforcing “ghost” that has no legal history or anything held to his name. A character which was written by Lee Child with such physical attributes that they were described by him as being “a metaphor” for the bravery and impeding ferocity of the character. Tom Cruise has his own way of showing that. He doesn’t just do his best. He knocks the role out of the park. Even from the trailers I never thought I would buy him as a military brute, but he kills it here, being equal parts intimidating and frightening. I absolutely loved him. The same can be said for Rosamund Pike, who gives a good performance as Reacher’s ally. Give it up for Werner Herzog, an actor I have never even heard of before this movie. This man is hysterical. He delivers his lines with such humorous effects it is nothing short of convivial. Richard Jenkins (Killing Them Softly) is great as always (let me know when he gives a bad performance). Robert Duvall does good work here as well as well as David Oyelowo as Richard Jenkins’ character’s partner. The main antagonist of this movie is portrayed by Jai Courtney, who does so very well. He has the opening scene of the movie, and from the lens of a gun sight, it is a very, very intense scene. His character also has a very surprisingly intriguing backstory. (Fingers is all I need to say for those who have seen the movie).
Perhaps the best aspect of this entire movie is the direction by Christopher McQuarrie. It is so well done. There is really no other way to say it. The opening scene, which is mentioned earlier, left me on the edge of my seat biting my nails. It was so well directed, paced, and filmed. It may be a bit disturbing, including a little five second period that brought me to think of the Sandy Hook tragedy, but it is all well thought out and transferred to film. It’s such a great opening scene. Also, along the lines of directing and acting, there is a car chase in Jack Reacher, and it is one of the best car chases I’ve seen all year. McQuarrie gets some breathtaking shots and angles during the chase, and it all feels legitimate. And as for the acting in the car chase, you can’t go wrong with Tom Cruise. Perhaps the biggest respect I have for him as an actor is that he does his own stunts. It is Cruise in the car. No stunt double. He just doesn’t care. He wants the audience to have a real experience. And that we do. We aren’t sitting by knowing a professional is behind the wheel. We know it’s pretty boy Tom Cruise, and that, my friends, is impressive. I am excited to see what McQuarrie does with the fifth Mission Impossible, givent hat he will again be paired with Cruise. It shall be exciting. Also, this movie has a good balance of action with the dialogue, and the fight scenes are astounding. I loved a scene toward the end that containted a fight in the middle of the rain, which was amazing to look at. Also, a scene, hinted at in the trailer, in a bathtub, is very well done, and even quite funny. I know I was laughing.
Given all the positives, the film does seem to go into territory that is way too familiar, unfortunately. No spoilers, but there are some clichés. It’s all a bit silly. But we don’t care. Tom Cruise’s Reacher, some sharp and very funny dialogue by writer Christopher McQuarrie, some engaging fight scenes, and a relentlessly exhilarating car chase more than make up for any flaw.
With many Oscar worthy movies being released at this time of the year, and some highly anticipated yet eventually disappointing ones, it is refreshing to see a movie like Jack Reacher come along. It is a good action film that serves only one purpose: to entertain. It doesn’t work your brain to death. It doesn’t make you lose brain cells. It’s fast paced, finely edited, finely acted, and completely entertaining. It has one of the best car chases of the year and an unexpected sense of humor. It starts off in top gear and never shifts down. So sit down, shut up, and have fun. Jack Reacher is worth it.
Run Time: 130 mins
Rated: PG-13 for violence, language, and some drug material
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall, and Jai Courtney
Written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie