Tom Cruise’s new starring role as “Jack Reacher” is largely a tonally inconsistent, overly long film that, seemingly, only serves to highlight Cruise’s physique and avoids any version of believability.
In the Jack Reacher series of books by Lee Child, Jack Reacher is a 6″5′ blond, blue-eyed former Army Major, with multiple medals who had previously worked as part of a military unit assigned to nearly highly complex and convoluted cases. Reacher appears to have a nearly super-human skill set in hyperawareness of his situation, nearly undefeatable fighting skills, and significant perspicacity in perceiving the formerly insolvable. At some point, Reacher finished his military work and became a drifter, without home or identification, who retains his military skill set while helping solve civilian crimes. Barring just the physical disimilarities from the original Jack Reacher description, Tom Cruise brings little believability to the character, squinting and pausing his way through dialogue such that his acting becomes forced and stiff. There are also repeated, odd nods to Cruise’s character’s attractiveness, for example females store employees constantly winking at him and a protracted scene while he is shirtless.
The 130-minute-long movie adaptation of the Child’s book “One Shot” opens graphically and tensely on a sniper’s searching for and murdering five innocents in Pittsburgh, and Reacher is called in by the man accused of the murders for help in clearing his name. Given the recent events in Newtown, CT, this scene feels especially unsettling for the audience and numerous graphic scenes of violence occur throughout the movie. Cruise’s character then unofficially teams up with a female lawyer (Rosamund Pike), who tries to prove her accused client’s innocence. Later, after much fighting, Reacher comes across those who tried to cover up the original murders and their intent. Throughout the film, Reacher’s character appears to work on his own agenda of vigilante justice, which is jarring when interspersed with scenes of slapstick-like comedy (e.g., when two would-be assassins repeatedly bang into each other with their weapons when trying to kill Reacher). The movie repeatedly vacillates between violence and comedic scenes in a choppy, awkward way. At times, between the forced dialogue and rough scene editing, it almost feels as though this film is a low-budget indie production rather than a big-budget Tom Cruise vehicle. Only when veteran actor Robert Duvall appears, late in the third act, as a gunshop owner who helps Reacher, does the moviegoer briefly feel some glimmer of light in the cliched film. Even if you are a big Jack Reacher fan, you may want to wait until this comes out on DVD. Instead, relax and home and see last year’s far better “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” again.