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In Cinemas This Week

Jack Reacher



Released: 26th December 2012

Directed By: Christopher Mcquarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike

Certificate: 12A


Reviewed By: Craig Williams

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels always seem to have had the silver screen in their peripheral vision. The author visualises scenes with a keen cinematic eye, infusing the dialogue with a creaky but effective mixture of noir stylings and one-liners. Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher, an adaptation of One Shot, is the first of the series to make it to the big screen. Much like the novels, it’s shamelessly enjoyable; tough, lean and ever-so-slightly offbeat. It’s a curiously old-fashioned picture, harking back to the crime thrillers of the 80s and 90s with its pulpy thrills, sassy witticisms and a vague sense of patriotism bubbling under the surface. The film also boasts one of the finest screen villains in a long time, with the surprisingly esoteric casting of acclaimed director Werner Herzog.

In a heartland US city, five people are shot dead by an expert sniper. In an excellent dialogue-free sequence, we see the police expeditiously identify and arrest the culprit (Joseph Sikora), with sufficient evidence to have him convicted. As the man lies in hospital following a vicious beating in a prison van, he wakes up and says only one thing: “Get Jack Reacher”. Reacher (Tom Cruise) is an ex-military cop living off the grid. No permanent residence, no driver’s license, no social security number; you don’t find him, he finds you. After hearing of the arrest on the news, Reacher shows up in town and reluctantly joins forces with Helen, the district attorney (Rosamund Pike), to look into the matter.

Much had been made of Cruise’s lack of suitability to play Reacher (in the books, he’s a 6’ 5’’, 250-pound muscle-bound hulk of a man), but he acquits himself very well, anchoring the film with his movie star gravitas. Whether quipping, fighting or investigating, it’s difficult to imagine anyone better suited to the role.

With Cruise also on board as producer, Jack Reacher shares the old-fashioned blockbuster sensibilities of last year’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. It’s a film built to entertain, moving at quite a pace and never taking itself too seriously. It has the plot of a dime-store novel and the wisecracking of an 80s action film. Even the predominant focus on the plot is reminiscent of trashy 90s crime pictures; Jack Reacher is not so much a popcorn thriller as a popcorn procedural. The action moments are judiciously weaved into the pulsating narrative and they’re frequently electrifying. McQuarrie is an unfussy director, shooting the action with a lean and sinewy force. This stripped-back visual style even results in one of the finest car chases in a film since Drive.

Jack Reacher’s real coup de grace is the ingenious casting of Werner Herzog. The legendary director’s voiceovers for his documentaries have always been brilliantly idiosyncratic. Here, that’s combined with genuine menace, resulting in some truly memorable monologues; it’s the cinephile’s version of a pantomime villain.

McQuarrie has crafted a terrifically exciting blockbuster; funny, energetic and entertaining. The inevitable sequel should be something to look forward to.

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