Story: The mysterious ex-soldier Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is hired by a lawyer (Rosumand Pike) to investigate a shooting of which her client is suspected. Local law enforcement (personified by David Oyelowo and Richard Jenkins) as well as a mysterious third party are not too happy with Reacher’s presence.
Lee Child has by now written over a dozen novels about Jack Reacher – a mysterious and invincible ex-soldier who fights for justice wherever he turns up. These are typical airport novels: you pick them up if you’re waiting for a plane, or to kill time on a long flight. But you’d never buy them when you are shopping for a ‘proper’ book.
It comes as no surprise then that Jack Reacher, the film adaptation of the novel One Shot, feels exactly like a movie you would watch on an airplane. It is good enough. It does what it needs to do – entertain you as long as it lasts – but it does nothing more than that.
The character Jack Reacher reminds one of Clint Eastwood’s man with no name, in Sergio Leone’s dollar trilogy. Or of these typical hard boiled detectives from Raymond Chandler novels. Tough men, living on the borders of the law, but always fighting the good fight. The film Jack Reacher also invokes these sterotypes: it is set in a nameless city in the middle of the USA, with no apparent connections to the outside world – save a busline or two. There the two stereotypical women in this drama: an expendable whore and an angelic, blonde saint. And the bad guy is really, really bad.
Actually, he is perhaps the most enjoyable element of Jack Reacher. German renegade filmmaker Werner Herzog turns up with one glass eye, some chomped off fingers and a hell of story to tell. Unfortunately he feels like he did not just wander in from a different film, but from a different universe. For the other actors are awfully bland. Oyewolo, Jenkins and even the usually likable Pike turn in mediocre and uninspired performances. And in this film, Tom Cruise is a problem.
Fans of the Lee Child novels have complained about the casting off miniature actor Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, who is described in the books as being enormously tall. My problem is not that Cruise is not Child’s Reacher. My problem is that Cruise is Cruise. I keep seeing Mission: Impossible’s Ethan Hunt, but the things that Reacher does do not comply with the image of Hunt. It pulls me out of the film more than it should. And I do not think that this is necessary, because in contrast to public perception: Cruise can act. And he can do not-so-nice guys. Just look at Magnolia or Collateral.
On the plus side: there is one good gag about hookers and there is a nice practical joke involving a baseball cap. Robert Duvall makes a nice, short appearance. Furthermore the film has a terrifying opening scene, a more-than-decent car chase in the middle and an exciting shoot-out in the end.
Final Verdict: With a little more effort this could have been very exciting and entertaining stuff. In its current state, it’s only just above the genre average.