Jack Reacher is based on Lee Child’s 80’s-esque One Shot featuring an 80’s style antihero up against 80’s style master criminals, and the results are exactly what you expect – an 80’s style potboiler, but one that manages to keep you fairly entertained. It’s more or less a great Salman Khan movie, with Tom Cruise in the lead role instead of Salman Khan.
In the novel Reacher is supposed to be a towering 6 foot 5 inch blue eyed blond haired, slow moving 50 inch chested hulk, but here Tom Cruise steps in about a whole foot shorter, brunette, puny and agile. The strange casting choices would mar the experience for fans of the novels, but don’t make a lick of a difference to those unfamiliar with the Reacher books. Because the film offers every bit of the archaic thrills that it promises, trying to make us forget that every single of its plot points has been done before in 80’s and 90’s cinema.
There is literally nothing new that Jack Reacher offers in plot, mystery or character and at times it seems absolutely outdated in 2012. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie (who penned The Usual Suspects) crafts a Perry Mason style mystery with the filmmaking technology from Bourne. We’re introduced to Mr Reacher (Cruise), an ex-military legend who is sucked into investigating a strange case where a sniper had taken down seemingly random people in broad daylight in a public place. But of course, nothing is random, as Reacher deduces, and the fat gets in the fire soon enough for Reacher to smell a big conspiracy and smack goons in the face. There is Richard Jenkins as a miscast suspicious DA and Rosamund Pike as his daughter who bags the prizes for the worst American accent and the most spectacularly odd character to grace screens this year. To go into the motives of the characters is not recommended because that would mean looking for logic and a semblance of common sense in the film. All you can do is sit back, sip your drink and soak in the slickly presented familiarity on screen.
However Jack Reacher makes up for its flaws with some tremendous cinematography, a superbly choreographed hand to hand combat sequence between Cruise and a baddie, and the incredible Werner Herzog as the villain. With one good eye and fingers bitten off, Herzog is frightening as hell, and it hurts to see his character given such little screen time and an ultimately lame resolution – he truly deserves to be cast in a Quentin Tarantino movie as the chief bad guy.
(First published in MiD Day)