JACK REACHER. Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike and Richard Jenkins. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. 130 minutes. Rated M (violence and infrequent coarse language).
Many of Lee Child’s readers of the Jack Reacher novels (including this reviewer), know that he is a former military policeman, now a loner, who continually gets caught up in other people’s problems despite himself. He is tough, laconic (though also sardonic), standing at five feet six and weighing 250 pounds or so.
So, who thought of having Tom Cruise (a foot or so shorter and some years older) for the screen version of Jack Reacher?
Despite strong misgivings, I will admit that Tom Cruise is not too bad at all. Lee Child himself remarked that in the books Jack Reacher is like a sledgehammer whereas in the film, he will be more like a scalpel. Maybe. Tom Cruise does get the opportunity to go the sledgehammer route. The main difficulty is not his height but that, despite many Mission Impossible actioners, his face does not look as lived in as Jack Reacher’s should be. Despite the long career, Tom Cruise still has touches of the baby-face.
One other thing for Reacher readers. This film version of One Shot is a pretty good adaptation of the novel. The first ten minutes or so are exact, with a lot of detail, which can reassure hesitant readers. Needless to say, a number of characters are shed, but the core of the novel is faithfully followed for screen action rather than merely being literal.
For those not familiar with the novels and character, Jack Reacher should prove an interesting, even intelligent, mystery action thriller.
A shooter who has shot five victims in the city centre is arrested and asks for Jack Reacher. It is assumed that he is to witness to the character of the shooter. Not at all. The two have a difficult history. This baffles the shooter’s lawyer (Rosamund Pike), the DA (Richard Jenkins) who happens to be the lawyer’s father, and the chief of police (British Shakespearean actor, David Oyelowo).
This is one of those things are not what they seem tales and it is interesting to see where incidents and clues lead us. Some lead to a veteran shooter, played with his pleasing customary bluff by Robert Duvall, and to a mysterious Russian who is played, capitalising on his sinister voice and accent, by celebrated director, Werner Herzog.
While Jack Reacher does have some fights and Cruise makes them credible enough, there is a car chase, probably the visual equivalent of the physicality of fists, kicks and blows.
We probably won’t mind if this is the beginning of a movie franchise – but Mr Cruise is now venturing into his 50s as should be the literary Jack Reacher.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out January 3. 2013.