Tom Cruise’s career is an interesting one that has, particularly of late, been filled with ups and downs. It’s quite unusual to see a older actor whose career was built upon a mix of great dramas, with the odd big action blockbuster here and there, shift his career almost exclusively to movies that fall into the action genre. Can Tom Cruise, like Liam Neeson, become a bigger action movie star in his twilight years than he was earlier in his career?
Well, if Jack Reacher is anything to go by, it’ll probably happen.
Jack Reacher, based on the book One Shot by Lee Child, is the story of a ex-military investigator who, after being missing for several years, reappears after a random shooting leaves 5 people dead. All the clues seem to point to one man, but Jack (Tom Cruise) feels that something is not quite right and starts trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s not long before he finds himself involved in a conspiracy which could cost him his life.
Jack Reacher feels very old school. It’s got great action, but like a lot of the classic action movies of the 80’s, it knows when it stop and let the tension build. The beginning of Jack Reacher definitely plays out more like a thriller, punctuated by moments of violence, with the action really ramping up in the second half, and overall it works really well.
The acting is solid, with Mr. Cruise (obviously) stealing most of the scenes. The rest of the cast is fine, but none of them have the same on screen presence that Tom has.
The characters are all well written, even if we are a little bit distant from them. Jack is an anti-hero who focuses on his own sense of justice, which makes some of his decisions a little bit left field. The attorney, Helen, whose chooses to defend the shooter in court, comes across as a little bit too naive, especially in comparison to Jack, which also makes us disconnect a bit from her. We never really get to know Helen’s father Rodin or Emerson too personally, but the plot makes good use of both of their characters.
The story is probably one of the stronger aspects of Jack Reacher. We only know that Jack and Helen are the good guys, and the way the story unfolds keeps us guessing as to who they can trust. This keeps the story scenes nice and tense, and each of these tense scenes usually end in an epic action sequence to help defuse the tension, before it starts building it up again.
The action itself does get pretty crazy at times, but it keeps itself grounded. Men will go at each other with bats, knives and guns, and cars will smash into each other in crazy chase scenes, but you’ll never see any of the crazy stuff you see in a lot of newer action movies (like launching a car into a helicopter ala Die Hard 4).
The only flaw that stands out is Jack Reacher’s villain. His identity is kept fairly secret, so I won’t spoil anything, but it seems that he’s more of a symbol than anything else. His lackey’s do most of the work, and when it comes down it, he literally just sits there and speaks. Yes, there are justifiable reasons for this, but it left the ending feeling a tiny little bit flat. Also, he definitely looks the part, but his “evil” nature seems to be more about his past than it does on his actions in the movie. It would have been nice to see the antagonist actually do something to show that he’s the antagonist. But realistically I can see why he can’t.
Movie Rating: Jack Reacher is a solid thriller with interesting twists and cool action sequences. It’s definitely worth watching at least once (unless you hate Tom Cruise, like one of my friends does).