If you can forget about the fact that 17 books have been written focusing on a character called Jack Reacher, a very distinctive character in every way, then this movie is easy to enjoy. Very easy. It is a rip snorting ride with lots of action complete with plot twists and turns that have you wondering what’s coming next.
If, however, you have read any of Lee Childs 17 books and feel, like I do, that the Jack Reacher character was distinctly created and described and that those distinctions are important to translate onto the screen, then you may find yourself being a bit distracted by some obvious discrepancies between the Jack Reacher of the page as brought to life by Lee Childs excellent writing and the Jack Reacher as embodied and manifested by Tom Cruise.
Tom is not only too short, by about 27 centimetres (he’s reportedly 1.70m tall, and Jack Reacher is 1.97cm tall), he’s too a few other things. He’s too affable – the Jack as embodied by Tom Cruise is simply too likeable which Jack of the books is not. He’s too overtly sexy and attractive to women – Jack of the books has scant interest in sex and women (and this is reciprocal) and in the 17 books there are a total of about 5 love/sex interests spread out (and only one per book where they do appear). He’s also too verbal and too chatty – in one scene he delivers a monologue about freedom and the choices people make. Jack in the books doesn’t use one word when one syllable will do, and he certainly wouldn’t deliver a monologue if one word would do.
But enough about that. It is what it is, and Tom Cruise certainly knows how to bring an action hero to life, and he could phone it in and we’d still want to watch. Cruise is mesmerising to watch doing almost anything and he brings the suspense to life in a slow burn way that has you sitting on the edge of your seat. Rosamund Pike balances the action out nicely with more cerebral input, although that part could have been played by any number of actresses and the reported chemistry between her and Cruise is barely discernible and certainly manufactured through the skill of professional actors.
Some of the action scenes are a little long but if you love car chases, there’s a spectacular one in this film, where a perfectly good Chevelle SS s battered and bruised and is abandoned by Reacher and left to fend for itself on a Pittsburgh city street. Cruise reportedly did all his own stunts, including the driving, and stunt people in previous films have said that he would have made one helluva stuntman. He became the world’s biggest movie star instead, so there you go.
I would have preferred this movie to be called “One Shot”, the novel on which the plot is based, which would leave more room for other Jack Reacher movies to be made. Despite the mismatch between the Jack we know and love from the books and Tom Cruise’s personification of him, Lee Childs creates a cracking good story which I’d love to see more of on screen.
Oh, and watch out by a cameo by the author, Lee Childs – he plays the duty officer in a blink-and-you’ll-miss it scene but it has some cute interplay with Cruise. Go along for a suspenseful, long (the film is just over 2 hours) and enjoyable ride!