At the Movies - Jack Reacher - review

Tom Cruise is Reacher in JACK REACHER, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.'OS-06479
Tom Cruise is Reacher in JACK REACHER, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.'OS-06479

I haven’t read any of Lee Child’s ‘Jack Reacher’ novels but my friend has. My friend hasn’t seen ‘Jack Reacher’ the film, but I have.

There’s no doubting that despite the fact he’s vertically challenged, Tom Cruise’s portrayal of homicide investigator, Jack Reacher, is a real triumph.

Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall.

Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall.

Lee Child’s character is 6ft 5in in the books but not once in the film does Cruise’s 5ft 7in detract away from what makes Reacher so attractive to both men and women. It’s a case of, men want to be him and women want to be with him.

After dispatching six random victims six feet under, a military sniper shouts “get me Jack Reacher.” All is not as it seems it would appear.

Reacher is brought in to discover the real truth of what happened but as he moves closer towards revealing it, there are those in power who will do anything to make sure that it remains hidden.

Cruise is brilliant as Reacher. Love him or hate him, he’s still a crowd puller and despite turning 50 earlier this year he still looks every bit as youthful and energetic as he did when playing Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in Tony Scott’s ‘Top Gun’ in 1986.

Sometimes a film’s rating, in this case 12A, can be off putting to movie goers who like their action sequences raw and uncensored. ‘Jack Reacher’ knows its audience but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a film that takes its 12A rating to the very limits - thumbs disappear into eye sockets and baseball bats crack off bodies with the most horrible of sounds. It’s a 12A with a dash of violent enthusiasm.

One of the film’s greatest achievements was the decision to cast the legendary ‘Bad Lieutenant’ director, Werner Herzog, as Reacher’s nemesis ‘The Zec’.

Herzog, who is known more for his work as a director, is awesome as ‘The Zec’ and if any negative can be derived it’s that he doesn’t get enough screen time.

Whilst Herzog is outstanding, the ultimate credit must go to director, Christopher McQuarrie.

It’s only McQuarrie’s second time to take up the director’s seat but he’s certainly a talent with brains and balls - he’s the man behind ‘The Usual Suspects’ after all.

McQuarrie’s only other completed film is the very underappreciated ‘The Way of the Gun’ starring Benicio del Toro and Ryan Phillipe and although it’s been 12 years since the aforementioned movie was released, ‘Jack Reacher’ is a more than satisfactory follow up.

McQuarrie’s pairing with Cruise works extremely well.

Whilst Cruise makes Reacher plausible, entertaining and fun, McQuarrie manages to set an atmosphere which part 1970s police film and part Schwarzenegger/Stallone action movie.

McQuarrie’s penchant for action and fight sequences is top class.

In one stroke of the hand he’s able to deliver a sinister torture scene whilst in the other he is more than adept when making a fight scene between Reacher and several goons feel funny and light-hearted.

Just when you thought McQuarrie’s flick couldn’t get any better the ever amazing Robert Duvall (now 81 years-old) turns up to share the screen with Cruise.

Duvall plays shooting range owner Cash and when he utters to Cruise ‘looks like you’re a little rusty’ it’s an obvious nod to their work together on Tony Scott’s in 1990.

To fans of Lee Child’s novels (of which he is on number 17), ‘Jack Reacher’ should leave them feeling that all that is sacred has not been spoilt.

McQuarrie’s film is based on ‘One Shot’, the ninth book in the series and both he and Cruise make the film highly entertaining and shift in plot will keep even the most awake and alert audience on the edge of their seats.

McQuarrie is currently in talks to direct ‘Mission Impossible’ which would mean a return to working with Cruise.

If the espionage action movie is anywhere near as wonderfully pleasing as ‘Jack Reacher’ then both men will be on to another winner.

VERDICT: 4/5 - A highly entertaining film which shows immense respect for the novels by Lee Child. A 50 year-old Cruise is every bit as believable as an action hero now as he was 20 years ago. The decision to cast Werner Herzog as ‘The Zec’ is inspired and Robert Duvall’s cameo as shooting range owner ‘Cash’ is just right. But kudos has to go to director, Christopher McQuarrie for making the film feel engaging, fun and utterly pleasing.