Jack Reacher Review

poster from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

I’ve been a fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books for a while, so when I heard they were making a movie out of One Shot, I was like: yay! Then when I heard they were getting Tom Cruise to star as the quiet, deadly, 6’5” blonde main character, I was like: oh no. Not Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise is crazy. But Lee Child supported the decision, so of course I had to give the movie a chance. For those of you who haven’t read One Shot, here’s the plot:

A mysterious former military policeman uncovers a conspiracy after a Marine sniper is accused of killing five people.

I was prepared to not like it. Book adaptations don’t always work out, especially when you read the book first. But now that I’ve seen Jack Reacher, I have to admit that it’s one of the best book adaptations I’ve seen and that Tom Cruise got it exactly right.

The thing I was worried about with Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher wasn’t that he was short or that his hair was the wrong color it was that Tom Cruise tends to be loud and crazy while Jack Reacher is the kind of character who blends into the background until he’s pushed too far, then he explodes and punches your face in. But Tom Cruise is a good actor. He used just the right amount of quietness and reluctance.

Tom Cruise beats up some punks from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

I have reluctantly beaten the ever-loving snot out of these punks.

In fact, his smallness may even make him a better Reacher than the book character, who had trouble blending in due to his being built like a refrigerator. There’s only one thing that doesn’t really work with Tom Cruise in the role, and that’s when the desk attendant at his motel instantly picks him out as someone who could kill with one punch.

investigating the parking garage from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

Yes, it’s the small, quiet, unassuming one you want.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie also does a good job translating the plot of One Shot into a movie. Somebody shoots 5 people in a park. James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is arrested. All the evidence points to him. Lawyer Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) takes on the job of defending him to spite her dad the DA (Richard Jenkins). Barr asks for Reacher, a top investigator who hates him, to look at the case, and while trying to confirm Barr’s guilt, Reacher discovers it might be a setup.

Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike at the police station from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

HELEN: What makes you think this guy didn’t run off?
JACK: You pack your shower curtain when you travel?

Jack is surprisingly funny in this movie, but it doesn’t take away from the adaptation because even if the script isn’t lifted word for word from the book, they capture the intent perfectly. And the intent it to turn up shadowy bad guys for Reacher to pound on without regard for the law.

Tom Cruise vs Jai Courtney from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

Come at me, bro. I’ll put you in a hole. A deep hole. Full of spikes.

It’s a 300 page book so some things did get left out. Reacher’s tendency to sleep with whatever woman he’s working with on the case is one of them. It’s actually an improvement – they get rid of the Bond comparisons that way. Unfortunately, with that subplot gone, Helen seems to have nothing left to do but be perpetually surprised by everything Reacher does or says.

Rosamund Pike from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

Geez Helen, save some surprise capacity for the ending, will you?.

McQuarrie also added a couple of setpieces to keep the attention of the action movie nuts who were likely to come to this film. It’s been a while since I’ve read One Shot, but I don’t remember Reacher having a car chase with both the bad guys AND the police through the middle of Pittsburgh in the world’s loudest, least maneuverable car.

Tom Cruise drives a muscle car from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

Good thing I don’t have a driver’s license or this car might be REALLY hard to handle.

Though they did add some action scenes, Jack Reacher is a thriller, not an action movie, like the trailer leads you to believe. So if you’re going to this movie expecting explosions, you’re going to be disappointed. There’s a lot of sniping though, so if you’re expecting a sniper battle, you will not be disappointed – especially when it comes to the sound. A lot of movies forget the flat metallic slamming sound and just use the bang when they record gunshots, but not here, and it sounds SO COOL when it echoes crazily around a parking garage or whatever.

Tom Cruise as a sniper from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

Oh, and Jack’s an awesome sniper too. Did we not mention his official job was military ninja sniper cop?

So would I recommend Jack Reacher? Hell yeah. Whether you’re a fan of the books or not, this is a good movie. I just wish they’d kept the original title (One Shot) so it would be easily identifiable as a cool sniper movie (the sniper motto is ‘one shot, one kill’) I guess you’ll just have to trust me that this is a cool sniper movie. Go see it. Give it lots of money so they can adapt my favorite book: Tripwire.

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