Lee Child (not his real name…his real name is Jim Grant) started writing/releasing Jack Reacher novels in 1997. He says he got the name for the character when grocery shopping with his wife and another customer asked him to grab something off a top shelf. His wife told him that if the writing didn’t work out, he could be a grocery store reacher. In the book series, Reacher is a former military policeman, who investigates different crimes that no one else seems to be able to handle. You know, like all novel cops. He’s also 6’5” and blond, but why get caught up on details?
This new movie, Jack Reacher, is actually based on the Jack Reacher novel, One Shot – which is 9th out of 17 of the novels. Christopher McQuarrie wrote the script and directs the movie.
McQuarrie had also directed Year of the Gun, and will direct the upcoming Mission Impossible 5, but is actually better known as a writer, having written pieces of Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, The Tourist, the upcoming Jack the Giant Slayer and the Wolverine.Jack Reacher is a little long for what is pretty much a standard cop-investigation-action-thriller. It is decently put together, decently acted, and has some pretty good action sequences in which Tom Cruise does his own stunt driving. The movie opens on a former military sniper making his own bullets, and a sniper taking out 5 seemingly random targets outside the stadium in downtown Pittsburgh. The evidence that the cops find is overwhelming, and they quickly arrest a suspect. We as the audience know that they have the wrong guy, but the evidence IS overwhelming. The suspect is a former military sniper, with some sketchy bad behavior in his past, and he asks the police to find Jack Reacher. Reacher however, sees the report on the news and comes on his own. He follows the evidence with the intention of confirming the suspect’s guilt, but begins to stumble on a more complicated series of events, and has to uncover the true killer.
The cast is small – and it really is a Tom Cruise movie, so no one else has a role of substance, but I’m not sure that’s an issue with a movie like this.
· Tom Cruise plays Reacher – and yes, he’s well aware that he is only 5’7” and not 6’5”…and not blond. Honestly, having never read one of the books, I have no idea how glaring that issue is; it simply didn’t bother me any. I would imagine if you are a huge fan of the novels, and they mention the physical aspects of Reacher all the time, this would upset you, but all the other characteristics of Reacher that I have read (stoicism, toughness, quiet, and confident), Cruise plays just fine. Say what you will about Cruise (he’s crazy!) he always commits 100% to his role of the moment – he works really hard, and he cares about his fans. He’s great in this movie, and as far as I know without having read any of the books, he’s a great Jack Reacher. Cruise is in that level of Movie-Star-ness that all you see in the movie is the star, and you don't really remember the character name. That actually works fine in this movie.
· Jai Courtney I have seen as Varro in Spartacus (the Showtime TV show by Rob Tapert featuring Mrs. Tapert – Lucy Lawless….not the Kirk Douglas movie) previous to this. He plays the true killer that Reacher has to discover, no spoilers there – you learn that in the first few moments of the movie. Courtney is an Austrailian actor who will be in the upcoming Die Hard 5 (that’s right, 5) as John McClane’s son. He is also my pick for He-Man if they remake Masters of the Universe (if they remake it – I loved the Dolph Lundgren one). He’s very evil and menacing in this, speaking to his future potential as a big time action heavy.
· Rosamund Pike who was in Die Another Day, Wrath of the Titans, and (one of my favorites) Doom, plays the defense attorney for the suspect in this movie. She takes on the defense of this suspected killer, despite the almost-iron-clad case against him. Also, to make matters more complicated, her father is the D.A., who is prosecuting – and he never takes a case he thinks he will lose. She’s equally as capable here as she is in anything else.
· Richard Jenkins – who was one of the best parts of Cabin in the Woods earlier this year – plays the aforementioned never-lose D.A. He gets a few scenes to be grumpy and determined.
· David Oyelowo from Red Tails, Lincoln, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes plays the lead cop working with the D.A. to capture the suspect and close the case. They are perfectly happy the catch was so easy and are not thrilled when Reacher shows up to make things more complicated. Oyelowo is a british actor who is perfectly matched against Cruise, and I look forward to seeing in more things.
· Robert Duvall plays Robert Duvall owning a gun range. That’s about all I have to say about that.
· Grizzly Man director Werner Herzog plays….well, it’s tough to say what he plays. Let’s go with “old Russian prisoner”. He does pull out every cliché ‘bad-guy’ stereotype he can find: creepy voice, scary finger mutilation, one bad eye, speaking in evil metaphors, and being quietly menacing.
All in all, I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, and I enjoyed it for what it was. It’s not great, but it’s entertaining, and I have to admit, I was caught up in Reacher’s investigation and trying to figure out exactly who was behind the situation. And watching Cruise beat up some meth dealers is always entertaining.6 out of 10 – just above Average! Gained points for the car chase. Lost points for the sniper action at the beginning, really tough to watch (incidentally, the movie was pushed back a week after the SandyHook Elementary Tradgedy). Gained points for Duvall “saving his night vision”. Lost points for Herzog’s character, his fingers, and that weird eye. Gained points for Jack Reacher author, Lee Child, cameo-ing as a cop at a desk as Reacher gets released from jail.
Bonus Video 1: Jai Courtney on Spartacus – impressive. Also, Manu Bennett - who is Azog (the giant white Orc) in the Hobbit.
Bonus Video 2: Gone in 60 Seconds, a movie I loved – seems to have the same Robert Duvall character in it.
Bonus Video 3: Doom – hey, I’ve mentioned before how much I love this terrible movie…Rosamund Pike is in it, so I’ll mention it again.
Bonus Video 4: Cast Interviews!