jackreacher-mv-11Jack Reacher is the main character in a popular book series written by Jim Grant, under the pen name Lee Child.  The series includes 17 books in total, with the most recent released in September 2012.  The film Jack Reacher is based on book nine, titled One Shot.  Distributed by Paramount Pictures and made by Tom Cruise‘s own production company it, of course, stars Tom Cruise as the lead character, Jack Reacher.  If you miss the Tom Cruise of Top Gun, A Few Good Men, and the more recent Collateral, see this film.  Cruise, who reached his 50 year milestone this past summer, is on top of his game.  He plays the good hero, with an edge, infallibly.

Jack Reacher is an ex-military police investigator who served with several distinctions.  But now he lives off the grid, and only comes forward when he learns that James Barr, an ex-army sniper, has been arrested for the killing of five innocent people.  Reacher knew Barr in Iraq and investigated him for the unauthorized murders of several independent contractors.  According to Reacher, Barr confessed to him about killing the contractors, but was never prosecuted because the Army chose to look the other way.  Reacher promised Barr that if he ever did anything like that again he would come for him.

When Reacher arrives in Pittsburgh and meets Helen, the attorney defending Barr, he gets more than he bargained for.  Originally convinced Barr was guilty, he agrees to be Helen’s lead investigator and stay open to the fact that Barr could be innocent.  After a barroom brawl gets staged to run Reacher out-of-town, he realizes Barr is being framed and he sets out to uncover the truth.  This is not a spoiler because, if you are paying attention, the opening scene gives the viewer a clue as to whether Barr is guilty or innocent.  The mystery lies in who really killed these five people and why they committed such a heinous crime.

jackreacher-mv-12What follows is your classic action-thriller genre film with just the right amount of plot twists to keep you guessing and action sequences to keep you in a heightened state of anxiety.  Reacher has a penchant for “borrowing” cars and conveniently ends up in a Chevrolet Chevelle SS during a police chase.  I only cringed when he took a hit from another car and damaged the front end, not because I worried Reacher would get caught (we all know the hero always evades the cops in the car chase scene), but because it is a crime to bust up such a beautiful classic car.  Cruise, who usually opts to do all his own stunts, did his own driving in this film.  Maybe that’s why he looked like he was having a little too much fun.

Cruise, who served as Executive Producer on the film, surrounded himself with a great ensemble cast.  The British-born actress, Rosamund Pike, plays Helen.  Although her chemistry with Cruise is palatable, it is never tested.  Her character is all business and she never strays from her main goal of defending Barr.  Her father, played by Six Feet Under’s Richard Jenkins, is the D.A. and her main legal adversary.  His role is small, but he is one of the top-five character actors in the business today, and he delivers just the right amount of suspicious behavior concealed in fatherly concern.  His partner, Detective Emerson, is acted by the same David Oyelowo, who turned heads in this past autumn’s indie, Middle of NowhereRobert Duvall rounds out the cast as an old-time gun aficionado who befriends Reacher and serves as his back-up during the climax, which takes place at an old rock quarry.  Although Duvall only turns up in the fourth quarter of the film, his performance is priceless and he delivers one-liners like, “Get her number and let’s go,” that only he could do properly, with the possible exception of Clint Eastwood, and only prior to the RNC chair debacle.

Jack Reacher is both directed and written by Christopher McQuarrie.  His previous screenplays include Valkyrie and The Usual Suspects.  His director resume is quite short, with only one previous feature film under his belt.  In the wrong hands this film could have turned out like an 80’s action flick that you’ve only heard of because you were looking for something to watch on a cable movie channel for free.  The dialogue is often cheeky and if it was being delivered by an action-hero like Schwarzenegger or Stallone, I’d roll my eyes.  But Cruise knows how to walk the thin-line between schmaltz and funny.

No matter what you’ve read in the tabloids about Cruise’s personal life this past summer or how you feel about Scientology, you’ll want to pat him on the back after seeing this film.  I couldn’t think of a better role for Cruise to play to reinvigorate his career and remind us why he is a star.  It is roles like this that he should be recognized for and remembered for when reflecting on his acting history.  With 16 other books in the Jack Reacher series, the door is open for a sequel and it could be a bankable franchise for Cruise.

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Comments
  1. […] FILM REVIEW: Jack Reacher (ameliaadamo.com) […]

  2. Mark Hobin says:

    This just looked so thoroughly average to me. Your review, however, gives me hope that it’s more than just a generic action flick.

  3. joelskod@aol.com says:

    Hi Amelia,

    Many thanks. Best wishes for a Happy New Year in 2013. Here’s our year-end letter.

    Joel and Mary

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