The unfortunate thing about Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher is that it is everything a Jack Reacher fan would expect it to be. In the novels Jack Reacher is 6’5” tall with a 50” chest and weighs in at between 220 and 250 ouds. Tom Cruise is reportedly 5’7” tall and about 150 pounds. When fans first heard about Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher there was some consternation about whether or not he would have the physical presence to play the former Army Major. As it turns out the lack of Cruise’s physical presence to play Jack Reacher is only one of the distractions in a movie which couldn’t possibly deliver on the expectations of Lee Child / Jack Reacher fans.
The story unfolds with a daylight mass shooting by a sharpshooter who takes out five targets in a very short space of time and then flees the scene. All the evidence points to a former US Army sniper who is arrested in what seems like an easy case for the D.A. and the police as they arrest James Barr with everything they need but a confession. Instead of a confession Barr writs three words on a pad: Get Jack Reacher. He needn't have bothered Reacher was already on his way.
Based on One Shot the movie takes some liberties with the novel as might be expected but there is a sloppiness to the filmmaking which, in a movie about which details matter a great deal is a bit of a let down. Perhaps the most distracting thing in the movie though is the sudden appearance of Robert Duvall as Cash the shooting range owner. Another journeyman actor in a cast of journeyman actors would have been a better choice than Duvall who is a distraction more than an addition to the movie.
What works well in a book does not always work well in a movie and that is the main stumbling point for this movie. A good portion of what goes on in any Reacher novel happens in Jack Reacher’s head and that does not make for good movie making. To the credit of Cruise and the writers they do try to bring out some of Reachers ability with regards to numbers, memory and how he lives but they miss out entirely on his sense of humour.
There are a few strong points to the movie in the form of reasonably good pacing and strong supporting performances from Alexia Fast in the role of Sandy and Denver Milord in the oddly titled roll of Punk. Both actors give strong and nuanced performances in rolls which are not long on lines (especially in Milord’s case) and if a future in acting is based on talent have a look for them in the future.
As an insurance marker this movie was watched with someone who had never read Lee Child and had never heard of Jack Reacher - she thought it was a decent movie and worth adding to an action / adventure heavy library but not a general library. Reacher fans will not be happy with the result but it is hard to imagine a case in which we would be happy with the result.....maybe if they started with The Killing Floor and moved through the series chronologically with Dwayne Johnson as Jack Reacher.