Jack Reacher | Movie review
Eccentric touches enliven this Tom Cruise production.
Jack Reacher opens with eight minutes of wordless action: A sniper chooses targets in front of Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, the cops investigate, and an Iraq vet is arrested for the massacre. It’s a suspenseful bit of pure cinema, and a ballsy way to kick off a big-budget tentpole. But just when you think you’re watching a forgotten Don Siegel classic from the 1970s, the stoicism ends. Characters open their mouths, proceeding to spout exposition and arch one-liners for the next two hours. The source material belongs to best-selling author Lee Child. This Tom Cruise production stars Tom Cruise as the writer’s multinovel hero, an army-brat drifter with preternatural sleuthing and roughhousing instincts. He’s hired as an investigator by the accused’s attorney (Rosamund Pike), who happens to be the daughter of the D.A. (Richard Jenkins) prosecuting the case. Plot holes enlarge and overlap, like a Venn diagram.
The mystery remains absorbing, though, and as with that first sequence, Jack Reacher includes sufficient eccentricities to keep it enjoyably strange. (Adapter-director Christopher McQuarrie remains best-known for penning The Usual Suspects.) When Reacher is assaulted in a bathroom, the ensuing brawl seems worthy of the Three Stooges, with Cruise knocking out one man using another’s head. And in what counts as a half-missed opportunity, Werner Herzog plays the villain. His speech about chewing off several fingers to avoid gangrene in a Siberian prison seems destined for YouTube canonization. But why cast one of cinema’s great expeditioners (and narrators) only to have him spend most of his screen time sitting silently in a chair?