Based on the ninth book in the Reacher series 'One-Shot', Lee Child's ridiculously popular vigilante badass finally comes to the big screen with Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkeryie) on writing and directing duties and Tom Cruise in the mysterious vigilante's shoes. Be warned, this reviewer has never read any of the Reacher novels; which may help. A sniper randomly extinguishes the lives of five unsuspecting citizens. A damaged ex-military man is implicated and claims that it's a frame up and demands for the police to contact one man, Jack Reacher (Cruise).
McQuarrie pieces together the moving parts of this neat little thriller with a great tempo. You need only look at McQuarrie's writing resume to see his dexterity with mystery and conspiracy. The opening sequence that sets the stage for the sniper is impressive in creating the detached perspective of a trained killer. However, the true highlight is the jarring action that fuels the film. The car chase action centrepiece of Jack Reacher is sensational. There's no Fast Five-esque CGI assisted ridiculousness here. It's classic muscle car petrol guzzlers tearing their way through a city and McQuarrie anchors your perspective to the driver's seat and shows the actors having to do a lot of their own stunts - significantly upping the ante.
Cruise imbues Reacher with a believable physicality and you feel the beatings he dishes out. He's an appropriately intense and focused investigator who has both a photographic memory and surgical hand-to-hand combat skills.
While the book buffs might be mentally road blocked by Cruise's physical differences to the character - movie geeks could have a similar brief suspension of disbelief issue with Werner Herzog on villain duties. He was distractingly familiar for this reviewer. And Rosamund Pike felt a little insincere in the face of some solid support by Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall and Aussie Jai Courtney.
Jack Reacher is an above average crime thriller and it could be the beginning of a beautiful collaboration between McQuarrie and Cruise.
[rating=3] and a half stars
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.