I haven’t read any of Lee Child’s Reacher books, so I can’t comment on how successful Christopher McQuarrie’s adaptation of ‘One Shot’ is. Considering that the Jack Reacher of the novels is supposed to be blonde, six foot five and 220 pounds, I can see why the casting of Tom Cruise may have put off fans. It brings back memories of the uproar that ensued after he was cast in Interview with the Vampire.
Thing is, Jack Reacher is quite a good film. First off, it should be noted that it’s primarily a thriller, not an action movie. The trailer makes it look like nothing more than another Mission: Impossible film, but I can assure you that this is a fairly different beast. Whilst it may feature a brilliant car chase and action packed climax, it’s most definitely a thriller/mystery. When a sniper takes out five random pedestrians one day, he is quickly tracked down and caught. The accused says nothing, but asks for Jack Reacher (Cruise). When the ex-military policeman Reacher turns up, defence counsel Helen is only concerned about her client avoiding the death penalty. As they investigate, however, they soon learn that this isn’t an open and shut case.
Reacher is an interesting character. He left the military in disgust years ago and is nothing more than a drifter when the film begins. Even though I haven’t read any of the books, it’s clear that trouble has an uncanny knack of finding him. He has a reasonably clear moral code but isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and has no qualms about killing a man if he feels they deserve it. Cruise handles the intimidation side of the role well, even though he never gets to be physically imposing. (One gets the feeling that he spent most of the shoot in platform shoes.)
Christopher McQuarrie deftly handles the directorial duties. Practically every scene is crackling with tension and momentum, and I was constantly keen to see what would happen next. There are one or two moments that start to feel ridiculous – one being Reacher’s speech about freedom (which comes across as incredibly cheesy) and another being the scene in which we find out Just How Bad the bad guy is. The latter is a problem mainly because he’s played by Werner Herzog. Yes, that Werner Herzog. His performance is good enough, but it took me out of the film every time he spoke because he’s so recognisable. If you didn’t know who he was, then it probably wouldn’t bother you.
Rosamund Pike is excellent as the defence counsellor whilst Jai Courtney has fun playing a villain. Aussie Courtney (from ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’) is clearly The Next Big Thing, since he’s due to appear in I, Frankenstein and play John McClane’s son in A Good Day to Die Hard later this year.
As Paramount attempts to rekindle the thriller genre which served them so well in the 90s, it’s good to see that Jack Reacher is a success, particularly since one of their previous held properties, Alex Cross (which was distributed by Summit last year), was somewhat of a failure. One can only hope that Kenneth Branagh’s Jack Ryan reboot works just as well.Rating: