Jack Reacher (8/10)
by Tony Medley
OK for children.
Let's get this
movie's big weakness out of the way at the outset. I've read most of the
Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. Reacher is a monster of a man,
described as 6-5, 245. He's an imposing presence. When he walks into a
room, everybody stops and looks.
Tom Cruise is
not Jack Reacher. He's 5-7 and I don't know how much he weighs, probably
not much more than 145 dripping wet. When he walks into a room, nobody
looks. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie does lots of Hollywood
stuff here to make Cruise look imposing. For instance, his leading lady,
Rosamund Pike, is an inch and a half taller at 5-8½. In their two shots
she's always looking up at Tom, so McQuarrie obviously used the Alan
Ladd (5-4½) peach box for Tom to stand on.
When people read
Gone With The Wind in the 1930s, everyone pictured Clark Gable
and the role of Rhett Butler. In fact Gable was so much the character of
Rhett Butler that he was reluctant to take it on because there was so
much pressure. When I read the Reacher novels, I pictured a young Tom
Selleck or Clint Eastwood in the role. They are obviously too old to play it now, and I
can't think of anyone around who could comply with Reacher's physical
But movies must
stand on their own. And this one does pretty much. For some reason they
started with Child's ninth Reacher novel, One Shot. This is
unfortunate because Reacher's character was established in the first
novel, when he is still in the Army. So when we meet him in this movie
he is already a wandering loner without the viewer who has not read the
books knowing why.
If you don't
already have an impression of what Jack Reacher looks like, Cruise does
a passable job of impersonating a tough guy. He's done it before in the
Mission Impossible movies. Cruise is a good actor and he carries
it off as well as possible.
This is kind of
a knockoff of the early James Bond movies with lots of throwaway
humorous lines, although it totally lacks the double entendres that made
the first three Bond films so memorable.
Outside of the
Cruise miscasting, the cast is terrific. Pike does a good job as the
defense attorney Reacher helps, wearing low-cut tops with a push-up bra
throughout the film, making her look almost Dolly Partonesque. Not that
There are others
in the cast, who add to the quality of the movie. Richard Jenkins plays
Pike's father who is also the District Attorney giving his usual fine
performance. David Oyelowo plays an assistant district attorney
admirably, although he was probably cast in large part because, at 5-8,
he's only 1 inch taller than Cruise. Werner Herzog, generally a producer
and director, gives a surprisingly good performance as a chilling bad
guy. Finally, maybe the highlight of the film, 81-year-old Robert Duvall
appears near the end and comes close to stealing the film. He hasn't
lost a thing.
This is a fun,
slam bang action movie with lots of bad guys for Reacher to conquer all
by himself, undoubtedly the first in a series since Child has been
prolific. But as good an actor as Cruise is, he is not Jack Reacher.
They need to find someone appropriate for the role. Cruise as Reacher is
like Mickey Rooney playing Rhett Butler.