Jack Reacher

jack reacherReleased: 2012
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike

Cruise is brilliant – the film isn’t


I think it’s important I get one thing out of the way before starting this review. I like Tom Cruise. I think he’s funny, I think he’s cute and I think he’s got real charisma. He’s one of the few old-school Hollywood stars we have at the moment and despite the fact he sometimes appears to be as mad as a box of frogs I still have a lot of time for him. That might help to explain why I’ve had no interest at all in the furore at him being cast as Lee Child’s anti-hero Jack Reacher in the first big screen adaptation of the massively successful Reacher novels.

Jack Reacher is a loner, a former military police officer who is described in the books as being 6 foot 5 inches tall with a 50 inch chest and weighs between 210 and 250 pounds. Fans of the books were unimpressed at the casting of 5 foot 7 inches tall Cruise in the role. I’ve read one of the books, I liked it but didn’t love it so that also helps explain my nonchalance about the casting. So what the actor is a tiny bit smaller than the character?  It’s not as if he’s doing something truly offensive like blacking up and playing Alex Cross. I wanted to rant at some people that they needed to get some perspective in life, the main thing to care about was whether Cruise and the film are actually any good.

Jack Reacher is based on One Shot, the ninth in Child’s series. In a seemingly open and shut case Barr, a former army sniper, is accused of carrying out a random act of violence, killing five innocent people. Former army policeman Jack Reacher arrives in town, not to prove Barr’s innocence but to ensure that he faces justice. Sensing that everything is not as it seems Reacher ends up working with Barr’s defence lawyer to uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the shooting.

I really did enjoy Cruise’s performance, he delivered the intensity that the character required and thoroughly convinced as the tough ex military man who just wants to be left alone. His slightly manic persona is toned down here and it works very well. The rest of the cast isn’t quite as convincing. Leading lady Rosamund Pike is all wide eyes and heaving bosoms and I’m not sure why any law firm would ever employ her. The addition of director Werner Herzog to the cast was quite a surprise and he seemed to relish his role, despite (or perhaps because of) it being utterly ridiculous.

The action was more than decent, particularly the key car chase scene for which Cruise did all his own driving. My transformation into geek is moving along nicely as I thought several times that the sound effects in this scene were absolutely stunning with fabulous screeching tyres and revving engines which added nicely to the atmosphere of the moment.

Despite all of the positives though, Jack Reacher is not a great film. It’s a good film and definitely worth a visit on the big screen but there’s too much that’s not quite right. There are too many shots designed to make Cruise look tall, a lacklustre supporting cast and one scene that had me laughing hysterically when it wasn’t supposed to (and had at least two people in the cinema looking at me as though as I was unhinged).

There’s potential for a franchise here but a stronger script and supporting cast is needed. Cruise certainly has the strength and intensity to convince as Jack Reacher and the naysayers who complained about his stature have definitely been proved wrong.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.


  1. I’ve only read one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels and I wasn’t very impressed. That said, I did think the character and the story could work well in film. However, after watching the trailer for this one I thought it looked immediately dated – it didn’t seem to offer anything new and I haven’t any compulsion to see it in the cinema. By the sounds of things it is built for a franchise and it is this sort of commercialism I don’t like, especially when it hinders quality.

    • Yeah, I think you’ve probably hit it all on the head. I wasn’t massively impressed by the book – read one, might read another one but might not. The film’s fine, passes the time nicely enough but isn’t anything special. Having said that if it’s a choice between this and Gangster Squad as an action alternative to Les Miserables then go for this.

  2. I’ve read the first 8 of the series and did have a problem with the Cruise casting. That being said I think he did an ok job. He had the intensity but not quite the presence. Reacher is commanding, in part, because of his size and that didn’t come across at all. But I thought the movie was pretty good, not sure if it’s good enough for a franchise but Cruise can’t be blamed for that. You are totally right about the supporting cast. Pike was terrible.

    • Apparently plans for a sequel have been shelved because this hasn’t done as well as expected. I blame bad direction and poor supporting cast rather than Cruise – he was left trying to do it all on his own. He’s good, just not that good.

Speak Your Mind