Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has taken on quite a task for his second feature; despite winning an Oscar for writing the screenplay to The Usual Suspects, his directorial debut The Way Of The Gun was largely ignored (despite being pretty great), and his screenplays ended up as average (Valkyrie) or terrible (The Tourist) movies. Now he's adapting a novel from a hugely popular series, with a lead character described as being 6 foot 5, 250 pounds with dirty blonde hair. To play this person, McQuarrie has chosen... Tom Cruise.
ut despite being pretty much the exact opposite of author Lee Child's ex-Military Police Major Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise fully embodies the character in almost every way possible. Possessing the mental prowess of Sherlock Holmes and the physical abilities of his own Ethan Hunt, Cruise clearly relishes the role of man who will do anything to ensure the correct people are punished for their ill deeds, even if that means breaking a law or two. Or a leg or two.
Reacher is dropped into a plot involving an expert sniper who, apparently, has killed five random people for no reason. The sniper himself calls in Reacher for legal assistance, before being beaten into a coma while in police custody. So it's up to Reacher, with the help of the sniper's attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) to get to the bottom of why the sniper killed these five people, and then why he would call in Reacher to prove that he didn't.
cQuarrie injects the twisty plot with some fantastic dialogue - although there are a few cheesy one-liners - and most of the supporting cast (Richard Jenkins, Jai Courtney, Robert Duvall) do quite well, save for Werner Herzog as chief villain The Zec, who feels painfully underwritten. Aside from that, McQuarrie also does fantastically well directing with a lean, economical but muscular fashion, a distinct throwback to the 70's cop thrillers. The opening sniper attack and the subsequent flashbacks are all terrifically tense, and the bone-cracking fist-fights, a teeth-rattling car-chase and the satisfying climax are all handled with aplomb.
late entry for one of the most entertaining movies of the year, Jack Reacher is evidence that - despite his stature - Cruise is still one of Hollywood's biggest and best.