Josh Wilding Reviews: JACK REACHER
Despite the fact that the likes of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Django Unchained are currently dominating the top of the box office, there's another big release out at the moment in the form of Christopher McQuarrie's Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise. Here's my verdict...
Despite its somewhat bland title, Jack Reacher is actually one of the most exciting and well crafted action thrillers of 2012. While it currently faces some stiff competition at the North American box office due to the release of Django Unchained and Les Miserables on Christmas Day, you would be foolish to miss out on what is sure to be the beginning of an exciting new franchise for Tom Cruise now that his tenure as 'Ethan Hunt' seems to be winding down. Both the character of Reacher and the tone of the film itself couldn't be any different from the Mission Impossible franchise. Of course, it should come as no surprise to learn that Cruise is on fine form here and despite having a much smaller stature than the 'Jack Reacher' from Lee Child's novels, he never fails to deliver in terms of action or being a believably intimidating presence.
Writer Christopher McQuarrie (best known for penning the likes of The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie and next year's The Wolverine) makes the decision to also sit in the director's chair for the first time since 2000's The Way of the Gun. He makes some great decisions when it comes to shooting the film and the opening in particular is a real standout sequence, as is the main car chase sequence later on. It's also surprising just how brutal a lot of the action is, and although Cruise is an actor who it's hard to imagine ever failing to convince in this type of role, a lot of that does hinge on McQuarrie's work here. If he's not offered a comic book movie after this film, then we're all seriously missing out (although one can't help but hope a sequel to Jack Reacher is given the green light).
Having never read any of Lee Child's books (including One Shot; the novel that this film is specifically based on), I can't comment on the faithfulness of this adaptation, but it is clear that Jack Reacher is based on some very good source material; source material which I intend to check out very soon. Although the film is obviously focused on Cruise, there are plenty of other performances here which are noteworthy. Jai Courtney ('Charlie') is perhaps the biggest surprise and I for one am now 100x more excited for next year's A Good Day to Die Hard having seen seen him take on a role such as this one. Rosamund Pike ('Helen') is great, while Richard Jenkins ('Rodin') and David Oyelowo ('Emerson') also impress. Alexia Fast ('Sandy') has only a minor role, but she's definitely one of those actresses you can't help but hope to see again in future.
Jack Reacher could have easily been one of the best movies of the year, but lets itself down in several key areas. It feels a tad overlong in places and there are several characters who just feel totally unnecessary to the story. Take Werner Herzog's villainous 'Zec' for example. While he's a frightening presence (at one point he gives a goon the choice of either biting his own fingers off or being killed), it's as if he was only thrown in there to give the film a "big" villain. There are also more than a few clichéd plot points and twists which are admittedly a staple of films such as this one, but mean that the otherwise strong screenplay sometimes lacks originality and any major surprises which you won't see coming from a mile off. However, that's not to say that Christopher McQuarrie's script isn't good and none of these faults are too detrimental to the quality of the film. The dialogue is fantastic (Tom Cruise is given the best material and clearly enjoys it) and there are still plenty of inspired story decisions despite the odd cliché.
Jack Reacher is a flawed but intelligent action thriller which fires on all cylinders thanks to the perfect pairing of Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise. Don't miss it!
When a gunman takes five lives with six shots, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. On interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: "Get Jack Reacher!" So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Jack Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence and a secret to keep.
Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher
Rosamund Pike as Helen Rodin
Richard Jenkins as Alex Rodin
David Oyelowo as Emerson
Werner Herzog as The Zec
Jai Courtney as Charlie
Alexia Fast as Sandy
RELEASE DATE: Out Now!
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