Jack Reacher is huge. In two ways. First in popularity – the books about him, by Lee Child, sell in vast quantities. That’s vast as in a lot. They are mystery/action thrillers about a man called Jack Reacher and a lot of people buy them. He’s also huge in that one of the few physical details given about him in the books is that he is very tall. He’s a former military policeman who lives in the shadows, appearing and disappearing at will. But he’s a big man.
So the movies that would eventually, inevitably appear based on the books were always going to be a big deal. So here’s the first one. With Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher. As you have doubtless read, there are problems with that. Tom Cruise is instantly recognisable. I like him as an actor – anyone who can pull of Magnolia and the Mission: Impossible films in one career has something going for him. But he’s too famous. We’re not going to buy him as living in the shadows. We’d spot him. Also, while Cruise is huge (in terms of star power), he’s not huge (in terms of height). We all know he’s short.
The film bearing the character’s name, based on one of the books, is a decent, solid, exciting action thriller. It’s not in Skyfall‘s league, but it’s involving and entertaining, lifted by a bonkers cameo from cult art-house director Werner Herzog as a criminal mastermind. Tom Cruise, though, just doesn’t convince. He’s not shadowy enough, he’s not sinister enough. He doesn’t scare. I haven’t read the books, so I asked someone who has. It wasn’t hard to find one, as I’m married to her and she was sitting next to me in the cinema. “He’s too short and too pretty” she said. That’s it, in a nutshell.
What it needs, we decided, is an American version of Jason Statham – hard, tough and with a sense of unpredictability. There’s enough here to make me want to see more from this character. There’s enough here to tell me there’s an even better film to be made around this character. For now this will do, entertaining and exciting; my wife felt it caught the spirit and tone of the books well. The only problem is Tom, a good leading man who’s leading the wrong movie.
I rated this film 3.5/5 on rottentomatoes.com & 6/10 on imdb.com