Movies: Jack Reacher

Author Lee Child’s protagonist in several books is Jack Reacher. He is 6’5” tall. Tom Cruise is not, yet he is Reacher in the adaptation of One Shot, the first movie in a new franchise (not the first book in the series).

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) sets out on what
turns into a wild car chase.
Photo: Karen Ballard, Paramount Pictures Corp.

As you watch the beginning of the movie, it is obvious why the New York City premiere event for this movie was canceled a few days ago and the trailer modified. Jack Reacher begins with a sniper shooting six people on a Pittsburgh street. The rest deals with finding out who did it and why. Regardless of whether or not you like the movie, the opening is very uncomfortable, hitting, as it does, close to the headlines.

Aside from that, this is a pretty good movie about a crime and about solving said crime. Jack Reacher comes to Pittsburgh at the request of the accused to help absolve him. The attorney for the defendant is Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), daughter of the District Attorney (Richard Jenkins). Detective Emerson (Daniel Oyelowo) quickly caught the suspect and, now, Reacher tries mightily to tell all involved that they have the wrong guy; that he is being framed.

Fans of the Jack Reacher books were avidly engaged in online discussions about who should play the character and, while Tom Cruise was not the most popular choice, he acquits himself quite well.

As in the books, Reacher is a mystery. We know he’s an Iraq was veteran and that he went off the grid, surfacing only when he must. He can be pleasant, social and does have a sense of humor but, judging from the action here, he comes alive when there a fight to be fought.

Performances of note — because they are great fun — are turned in by Werner Herzog as The Zec and Robert Duvall as Cash. The former is a mysterious man somehow involved in all this. The latter is the owner of a shooting range. They are both such pros that it is a pleasure when they come onscreen toward the end of the movie. The other measure of fun comes from a long car chase that has Reacher careening through Pittsburgh.

The movie was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, whose most notable script was for the unforgettable movie (in a good way) The Usual Suspects. This is not in the same league.

Jack Reacher is the kind of film more people would have liked if they had seen it last month. Now, it’s difficult to watch.