The adaptations of Robert Lundlam’s Bourne series, including this year’s The Bourne Legacy, have done some series business at the box office, so it’s only natural that Hollywood would be calling for another fallen government agent known for going to extreme measures to investigate something.
Jack Reacher, an adaptation of Lee Child’s novel One Shot, shows a different formula, but similar action and suspense — all with better writing and cinematography, upping the ante on the thrills, making this one of the biggest action films this year.
When former Army Infantry sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is arrested for murdering six civilians in a crowded Indiana area, the district attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) and Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) think they have an open-and-shut case. That is, until Barr, instead of confessing, demands Jack Reacher. Reacher (Tom Cruise), a former military policeman now off the grid, is known for rogue investigating techniques and questionable ethics to do what is right, and not necessarily what is legal. Once Reacher is hired by Barr’s lawyer Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) as lead investigator, Reacher begins to unveil two bizarre truths: Barr was framed for the murders…and someone is trying to take Reacher out of the equation.
Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie teams up with Cruise again after 2008’s Valkyrie, and the results are explosive. Using the same brilliance in writing and ambiance seen in McQuarrie’s breakthrough film The Usual Suspects. Though his directorial debut, The Way of the Gun, was too bizarre for mainstream audiences, Reacher shows McQuarrie has learned from his mistakes to make a straight-forward thriller that is intelligent, taut, and vastly entertaining.
Aside from Cruise’s brilliant performance, Reacher‘s true magnificence lies within McQuarrie’s script. Unpredictable, mysterious, and often humorous, Reacher keeps the audience at the edge of their seats while keeping them guessing at the same time, allowing for a greater thrill than anything you would get out of a Bourne film. While Bourne focused more on thrilling chase sequences, Reacher focuses more on the mystery. Granted, the fights and car chase scenes are amazing, but they’re not the bread and butter of the film, which, in the end, leads to a vastly better pay off, and possibly the start of a thrilling new franchise.
FINAL VERDICT: Jack Reacher is not Jason Bourne, and this is what makes the film compelling. Instead of constant chases and conspiracies, Reacher offers not only edge-of-the-seat action, but noir-like mystery and nail-biting suspense that will definitely have you begging for more. Christopher McQuarrie’s dark humor and even darker ambiance are perfect for Lee Child’s novel, and has all the franchise potential film goers get excited about, which makes this the perfect action film this season.