The eponymous character of Jack Reacher is based on a series of novels by Lee Childs all of which are centred around Reacher. This first Reacher film (and I say first because I'm almost certain that it will spawn several sequels) is adapted from a novel titled One Shot (from 2005) and begins with one of most riveting opening sequences I have seen in a while: a white van drives into a multi-storey garage, parks, a man gets out, pays for parking by putting a coin in the parking metre, creeps to the edge of the building, puts on his sunglasses, takes a deep breath and swings around a sniper rifle in hand to train his sights on the promenade across where people are going about their business obliviously.
The police are quick to find and arrest a certain James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a former army sharp shooter, based on his fingerprints from the coin he used to pay for parking. During the seemingly open and shut case, Barr demands to see Jack Reacher – a name that mystifies the chief investigator Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) and the Pittsburgh District Attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins). Just as the two are pulling Reacher's records and finding that he had been a crack former army investigator but is now off the grid, he walks into Rodin's office.
What follows is an unexpectedly nuanced detective story with many mysteries that slowly unfold before we finally come to the truth. Tom Cruise as Reacher, as I mentioned before, is very different from the Ethan Hunt character. He doesn't use gadgets, doesn't sport a designer hairstyle, and actually has allowed for the camera to appreciate the lines on his now 50-year-old face. Reacher is jaded and imperfect just as Hunt is slick and faultless. All in all, I would pick Jack Reacher any time.
As always with films of this kind, one cannot divulge too much of the plot for fear of spoiling things for the viewers, however, I will say that there are many delights in this quite interesting new film.
Part of the originality comes, of course, from its director Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote the now iconic The Usual Suspects (1995), and has since graduated to directing, though not always with great success (The Tourist in 2010 with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp was possibly one of the worst films of that year).
Combined with cinematography by the great Caleb Deschanel and with astonishingly good (and surprising) cameos from people like Werner Herzog (as the arch-villain 'The Zec') and Robert Duvall as another former army sharp shooter who goes by the name of 'Cash', this film is definitely worth watching.
For those who are convinced that Tom Cruise is slightly deranged by Scientology, I would say that you are probably correct. Happily it hasn't taken away from his star power and his undeniable onscreen appeal. Tom Cruise, like Julia Roberts, always plays a version of himself, but Jack Reacher is his best and most believable incarnation yet.
Jack Reacher is currently playing in theatres.