johnlink ranks JACK REACHER (2012)

This is one that has been on my radar for awhile. As much as I am not a particular fan of Tom Cruise as a personality, it is hard to argue that he has a hell of a track record when it comes to making entertaining films. Some people can put aside what they think of him, some can’t. I, for one, will never shy away from seeing something he’s done.


I watched JACK REACHER (2012) on 7.23.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

In the novels by Lee Child, Jack Reacher is described as being almost a foot taller and probably fifty pounds heavier than Tom Cruise. A more comparable body type might have been Liam Neeson (who is set to play another novel detective, Matthew Scudder, in the upcoming A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES). Yet, in the film JACK REACHER, no time is spent thinking that Cruise is not big enough, tough enough, or intimidating enough to do what he does.

If there is any criticism to be found, it may be that there is a certain level of vanity involved when Tom Cruise, the actor, plays a guy consistently being checked out by hot women in a role Cruise, The Executive Producer of the film, assigned to himself. Be that as it may, there is not any sense that he isn’t fit to play this character.

And what a good character it is. Reacher is a former military detective who drifts through life showing up when he feels like it. He has no attachments, no clothes, no relationships. He shows up to solve a problem, solves it, and disappears.

In this movie, the problem is that a former army sniper, Barr (Joseph Sikora) has been accused of assassinating five innocent people. Reacher once caught Barr doing something similar and promised to take him down if he did it again. So Reacher shows up to do just that. Instead, he is talked into helping defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) gather evidence to prove he was framed. Helen is competing against a DA who happens to be her Dad (Richard Jenkins) and a detective who is very good at his job, Emerson (David Oyelowo). Lurking in the background is a half blind former prisoner (played by famed Director Werner Herzog) and a younger pile of muscle (Jai Courtney). Also making a wonderfully efficient cameo is Robert Duvall.

Written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie (who still is best known for writing The Usual Suspects twenty years ago), this is an adaptation of a novel which actually provides much of the same experience you get in reading a good thriller. There is a high level of entertainment, some necessarily evil baddies how may not be particularly filled with depth, solid action, a story which may be a little two tight and smart for its own good, and a really likable central hero being supported by some good people. Like those breezy summer thrillers, JACK REACHER may also not prove to be a memorable film. It is good, no doubt, and you can do much, much worse when it comes to action/thrillers. It is a classic of the genre? Certainly not. But it is very, very good at what it does.

McQuarrie’s script zips along with some nicely paced dialogue and several good one-liners which feel lifted from a good, pulpy novel. Even if the story ties up a little too conveniently and easily, we are certainly taken on an intense ride from start to end. Surprisingly, the movie is not afraid to provide some really innocent victims which move this from a rollicking good time (like, say, the new SHERLOCK HOLMES films) and more into a genre of grittiness and bleak moments before an optimistic outcome.

If they made more Jack Reacher films I would see them without hesitation. It is a series which could easily be done like James Bond in the sense that there does not need to be a through-line connecting the films. Worst case scenario, is that it turns more into a Jack Ryan type franchise which has managed to give us four different actors playing the lead role in just five films.




FINAL SCORE: 7 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on July 24, 2014.

10 Responses to “johnlink ranks JACK REACHER (2012)”

  1. I didn’t love this one but I watched it when I was loaded and don’t remember much of it….

  2. Big fan of the books, I just can’t see who else they could get that fits the huge guy description whilst being rugged and handsome. Cruise was great, really enjoyed the film, glad you liked it too buddy 🙂

  3. This one works mostly because of Cruise’s charm. Even if he is way too small for this role, he still works by just commanding the screen with every chance he gets. Like the movie star he truly is. Good review John.

  4. I can’t bring myself to watch this. I like tom cruise as much as I like stallone and that’s a whole lotta not that much. I’ve read most of the reacher books and, yes, reacher is like 6’4″ and beefy. It would drive me nuts to no end, to watch tom cruise in this. Even though I’ve been told that this is a good movie and they try to film cruise from angles that don’t really show his vertically challenged problem. blah blah
    I don’t know. I eventually got bored with the books too, which rarely happens. I stopped reading them, child should have ended the series a long time ago.
    anyway, i might get desperate for something to watch one day and if I watch this one I’ll let you know. ; )

    • I know you are not alone in feeling that way about the movie. It is hard not to be subjective about something into which you have invested lots of reading hours.

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