Jack Reacher (2012)

by The Movie Diorama

Jack Reacher smoothly reaches for thrilling heights but is weighed down by a heavily condensed plot. As always, I have yet to read (and probably will never, let’s be honest) Lee Child’s series of crime novels featuring the titular drifter. However, I’m aware of the criticisms regarding Cruise’s physical appearance and how he is nothing like the source material’s description (which will be taken into consideration).

But alas, I’m reviewing McQuarrie’s adaptation, and it’s enjoyably solid. It’s what one would typically expect from a Tom Cruise crime thriller. Nothing more, nothing less. Based on Child’s novel ‘One Shot’, a former military officer is lured into proving the innocence of a trained sniper who was framed for murdering five innocent civilians.

As standard and overwrought as the story is, approximately stretched out over two hours, McQuarrie’s eye for stylish flair is what truly elevated the investigative thrills. From the midnight car chase featuring drifts aplenty to the bar brawl with bone-crunching leg snaps. McQuarrie swoops in with the camera and envelops you in the gritty underbelly of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania through Reacher’s perspective. Commencing with a breathtakingly harrowing sequence involving the scope of a sniper rifle, McQuarrie sets the brutal tone from the get-go, accompanied by Kraemer’s intense score.

Then the plot begins to unravel with several meandering sub-plots and unfortunately McQuarrie is unable to bring the whole story together. The first two acts, mostly revolving around Reacher himself being framed for murder, was well constructed and exhumed Cruise’s natural charisma, despite being alongside Pike’s stiff performance. Then the conclusive third act in the quarry kicks into literal action and the investigative intensity dissipated instantly, essentially being substituted for an elongated shootout sequence with no real depth. Then you’ve got the Zec which under-utilised Werzog, the Lebendauer Enterprise conspiracy which was underdeveloped and the often heavy-handed storytelling, just in case audience members couldn’t work it out for themselves.

So really, I yearn to disregard the third act. As the preceding two were exceptionally executed with a variety of light humorous moments (the bathroom brawl in particular) amidst an intriguing initial premise. Even when Reacher is mind-flipping everyone by asking intuitive questions that grant him the answers he desires (“Does Sandy work here?”), it’s engaging enough to hurdle over the bumps in the road.

Just a shame that the longer the story stretched, the more convoluted and underdeveloped it became. Atleast this paved the way for McQuarrie to work on the ‘Mission Impossible’ series, that’s the best outcome by far!