Film review: Jack ReacherBy Kim Francis
January 02, 2013
When it was first announced that diminutive movie star Tom Cruise would be pulling on the mantle of imposing literary anti-hero Jack Reacher, fans of the Lee Child creation were up in arms.
Physically, he may not match Child’s prosaic description of the kick-ass action sleuth as a six-foot-something hulk, but the Hollywood giant more than makes up for it in action-movie experience and charm.
It’s just a shame that the material he has to work with doesn’t equal his grand (non-physical) stature.
When five seemingly random innocents are gunned down by a super-sharp sniper, the police are convinced it’s an open and shut case as they close in on military-trained marksman James Barr (Joseph Sikora). But when he swears he’s innocent and the mysterious Jack Reacher turns up to investigate, an elaborately-plotted scheme starts to unravel.
Cruise effortlessly transfers elements of his Mission: Impossible character Ethan Hunt to the role of deadly former police officer Reacher, making him a shoo-in for the character despite his lack of height and bulk. And in spite of his controversial casting, he winds up being the best thing about this crime thriller.
Introducing a comedy dimension, Cruise delivers one-liners with a wry smile and a hefty wedge of cheese as he investigates the convoluted case Columbo-style, all instinct and intelligence beneath the brash, brawny veneer.
But while this entertains and helps alleviate the more tiresome moments of the plot, so-so action sequences and two-dimensional characters, it gives the film a lightweight feel that is at odds with its pertinent subject matter, with the world’s gaze currently fixed as it is on America and its gun laws.
A surprising cameo from acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog lends a menacing air and tangible sense of unease to the movie, while a very welcome touch of class is brought to the proceedings by the presence of Richard Jenkins and Robert Duvall.
British beauty Rosamund Pike rounds out a cast that’s far better than the screenplay it’s working with.