Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike
Jack Reacher is the final film to be seen of 2012. It stars Tom Cruise as the title character who has been taken from the Jack Reacher novels written by Lee Childs. There are seventeen in total but this first film adaptation of the series is the story of the ninth book called One Shot, which was supposed to be the title of this film but was changed so people who didn’t know the book would begin to understand the character. Ever since this film was cast fans of the books caused mass outrage across the internet as they felt Cruise was not the Reacher they had in their minds, mainly because Reacher, according to the book, is six foot five and two hundred and sixty pounds. Any human with eyes will know that Cruise certainly doesn’t fit this profile. I haven’t read the books so I’m unaware of the depths of this character but I think Cruise is the perfect fit for it especially charisma wise.
The film begins in style with a slick opening credit sequence before showing us the incident that triggers events of the film. Jai Courtney (to be seen later in the year as John McClaine Junior) pulls a van up in a parking lot, removes a sniper rifle and shoots dead five people with six bullets. He litters the scene with evidence and disappears. The following day a different man is arrested and charged for the murders, a man with a history of murder with a sniper rifle whilst in the army. The only words this suspect uses are ‘get me Jack Reacher.’ While the police and District Attorney try to find out who this Jack Reacher is, Tom Cruise arrives on the scene to announce his presence. Jack Reacher is a ghost, a man who drifts from place to place with no identification and brings justice to people who deserve it regardless of the laws. Reacher begins to discuss the case with the defence lawyer (Rosamund Pike) and tells the story of how the suspect, James Barr, was involved in a shooting which Reacher investigated, meaning Reacher knows Barr only too well. Reacher believes Barr to be guilty but as he begins to help investigate the case he realises he is becoming the target of ‘random’ attacks and that someone doesn’t want him to dig any deeper. Due to this, Reacher questions Barr’s innocence and sets out to bring justice to the people who are doing all they can to cover their crime, something that is linked to a much bigger conspiracy. Reacher’s investigation leads him to a man known as the Zec (Werner Herzog) who will do anything he can to survive, including chewing off his own fingers.
There’s plenty of charisma in this film, especially in the first hour. The opening sizzles and the introduction of Reacher is well done. As the crime is investigated we begin to see Reacher’s investigating abilities and plenty of background exposition is delivered by showing how the lawyer’s and Reacher’s opinions differ depending on the information they have received. In this half we’re also given some decent action sequences involving Reacher taking on five men in a bar fight and teaching them all a lesson. The action sequences are very well done by director Christopher McQuarrie and are acted out brilliantly by Cruise who brings his usual action panache to proceedings. The mystery cranks up to ten with plenty of intrigue floating around and the introduction of the Zec is horrifying as we see how far he will go to survive. Surely this could only make for an intense second half.
The answer to that would be no as the second hour falls apart. The story line becomes slightly generic, we begin to learn about a typical mole who is playing for the opposite team and we meet an otherwise unmentioned war veteran who simply turns up to help for no reason. This is nothing against Robert Duvall, who is great in the role, but he seems to be a character that was explored in the books but not so much here. This is to be said for much of the second half generally. There are also many moments that don’t make sense with Reacher giving the Zec’s main henchman an opportunity to survive by challenging him to a fistfight instead of shooting him dead. What if Reacher had lost the fight? Everything would have been for nothing.
The plot fails to realise which genre it should be settling in; at times it’s a deep thriller and then suddenly comedic fight scenes are thrown in which feel out of place. Cruise is great in the title role, but Pike unfortunately fails to back him up. The opening is great with the ending running out of steam and the initial mystery disappears for the sake of mindless action by the climatic finale. This was a recurring theme in the movie where something so good was equalled out by something particularly poor, meaning it turned out to be a rather average action thriller, which is kind of what you expect from Tom Cruise now days. An underwhelming end to the year then.