By Gary Murray
Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike and Richard Jenkins
Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Running time 130 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating—FULL PRICE
Johnny Depp has Captain Jack Sparrow. Arnold Schwarzenegger has the Terminator. Sigourney Weaver has Ripley. Robert Downey Jr. has both Sherlock Holmes and Iron-man. But Tom Cruise, arguably the biggest movie star on the planet, only has one character he has done more than once. In his Mission Impossible series, he plays an Agency ghost, a man best not remembered. Now with Jack Reacher, Tom has a chance to pull even in the franchise character department.
The story of Jack Reacher is of a seemingly random shooting. A former military man is accused of the crime. Everything points to a trained style of execution of innocent civilians by a zealot. When the man is caught, he eventually winds up in a coma. But before he falls in the depths of inner entrapment, he leaves a cryptic message—“Get Jack Reacher”.
Now appears our hero. Jack Reacher is a former military policeman who has been trying to stay off the grid. He does everything he can to make sure that he is not traced, from never keeping the same address to only having one change of clothes. He knows things about the shooter that makes him believe the police have the correct man.
A local attorney Helen (Rosamund Pike) thinks that everyone should get a fair trial and decides to represent the shooter. This comes much to the chagrin of her district attorney father (Richard Jenkins). There are some familial issues between the two attorneys.
Helen hires Jack to investigate the crime and prove the man innocent. The first thing that Reacher assumes is that our shooter is the man. It seems too cut and dry for him not to be a killer. The more he investigates, the more it becomes obvious that the killing was not done in a true military faction.
He starts to dig and things do not make sense. Reacher keeps harking to the idea that our killer paid for a parking meter that would have his thumb print on it. The pieces fall in place just a bit too easily.
As Reacher investigates the loose ends of the crime, the more the true murders get nervous. The entire execution is part of a grander nefarious plan that involves both the Russian mob and someone in City Hall. The more Jack Reacher peels away the layers, the more he puts his attorney in danger.
The film swirls to a kidnapping and Jack having to bring in some help from a local gun range owner (Robert Duvall). We know that there will be a giant confrontation; we just have to wait for it to eventually happen.
The film is set-up around a giant car chase through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh. Director Christopher McQuarrie tries to make it live somewhere between The French Connection and Bullitt in terms of adrenalin fueled excitement and succeeds. The massive set piece is one of the most exciting thrill rides of the year and the huge drop on the cinematic roller coaster. There is this feeling that the entire film was just designed to be a giant set dressing for the racing cars.
Tom Cruise wears the character of Jack Reacher with a certain waif charm. He is a ‘take no prisoners’ kind of guy who only has one agenda—the truth. As a military cop, he has seen the darker sides of humanity and is appalled by his discoveries. This is a guy who just wants to be left alone.
As good as Cruise is in Jack Reacher, the best reason to see this film is the supporting performance by Rosamund Pike. This former James Bond girl is still one of the most beautiful women on the planet and has something that most of her former damsels in distress do not have–solid acting chops. We believe in her crusade to be just and true, even if it seems to be more of a dig at her father.
Jack Reacher is a tight little action thriller that should be a giant paycheck for those involved. It will also be the first in what will be a long series of adventures for the character. I can’t wait for the next episode.