“I was a cop, the difference? Every suspect was a trained killer”
I’ve been excited for this film for quite a while. I seem to be one of quite a select few who have been looking forward to it however as I think only one of my friends is actually a fan of Tom Cruise and he’s back in Southampton. Jack Reacher has a very distinct feel to it and a vibe that feels very similar to the Daniel Craig version of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo albeit a much less vivid and gory one. It is a gritty film, more of a thriller than the action film I had envisioned, which, if anything, made it better and gave Jack Reacher more of a mind than maybe his Ethan Hunt character from Mission Impossible. I did not expect this to be so far away from a Mission Impossible film as it was.
The main thing that shocked me was how the film was structured and how the action played out. I liked the way we were let into Jack Reacher’s mind process when investigating the case and we see him examining the scene but also his on screen relationship with Rosamund Pike’s character Helen felt brilliant from the cagey start that grew into a more trusting but most interestingly and refreshingly a non-sexualised partnership that so many action/thriller films feel the need to do.
Cruise’s set up as the character of Reacher in the film felt perfect and looked great on the screen as the man you can’t find, who has fallen off the radar and likes to keep it that way. The way we see him in bed with a female walking away at the start shows his character in a different light to what we see in the rest of the film. Again, I have to mention just how good Cruise is in this film in the lead role and although appears differently to how he is in the novels he has the perfect attitude and mannerisms for the role. He is clever, he is strong and he knows a clear difference for what is right and wrong, although, however cliched it may sound… he doesn’t play by the rules.
The stand out scene that immediately comes to my mind in Jack Reacher is the car chase. The action was just beginning to pick up real pace before this scene and the moment the police screeched into action behind the framed Reacher I kind of knew it was going to look and feel good. A similar technique to the initial Bane/Batman fight in Dark Knight Rises was used where no score was used behind the action instead just the roaring engine of Reacher’s stolen car and the sirens and screeching of rubber on tarmac. The action felt real which was important in this film compared to some of Cruise’s other action roles where plausibility seems to go out the window (in a good way) to create cool looking action scenes. This on the other hand was just direct, harsh and brutal. From this amazing 8 minute car chase to the fight sequences I felt more part of the action as the hard hitting Reacher fights for what he knows is right.
The story itself wasn’t the most mind boggling brilliance I have ever witnessed but it was solid. It was standard detective work reminiscent of BBC Shows like Life on Mars in the ‘not playing by the rules’ ways of getting to the bottom of it all. I liked the twists involved despite them being a little obvious but I am guessing there will be more with its hopeful success in the box office earning it a sequel.
The villain of the piece, director of Grizzly Man and fellow Austrian (I’m only half Austrian but still) Werner Herzog plays a classic role as the german/european mastermind behind the revenge attacks and shootings, which is another thing I like about this film, it wasn’t the standard ‘I will destroy the world because I am the bad guy’ set up, it was local but still threatening more like you see on a TV Show. The Zec’s minions in the film were brilliant though it has to be mentioned, after the film myself and a friend joked about the scene where Zec made one of his grunts attempt to bite his own fingers off to prove himself worthy to live and work for him. We came up with many scenarios of this grunt going to a ‘henchman union’ and launching complaints and getting jobs working for ‘proper villains’ with ‘uniforms like boiler-suits’ to wear while they ‘guard doors’ and take on the enemy if approached ‘one at a time’ rather than ‘all at once’ so they have a chance to ‘beat us all fairly’. Anyway, where this offered many a laugh from us coming up with pension scheme that villains should be offering their henchmen I think the best gag came from the name itself. Jack Reacher soon became ‘Jack Reach-around’ and the subject of a rather gaudy 70’s innuendo comedy to the point where I couldn’t watch the film without giggling when his name was said always thinking ’round’ after ‘reacher’ was said by someone.
The film was not without its faults but these came in the form of cliched moments. The two grunts trying to kill Reacher in the bathroom of the house with baseball bats offered its own take on the Home Alone series as they end up fighting each other and accidentally hitting each other on the head while trying to beat Reacher to a rather bloody death, or what should have been a bloody death. Probably intended as humour but felt like it was just missing some ‘bonk’ and whistle sound effects to complete the cartoon caper moment. My other personal favourite cliche was the map in the construction site when Reacher goes to the wrong building he looks at a map on the wall (not disimilar to the one you find at a shopping centre pointing out all the shops) and it says ‘you are here’ pointing to the trailer he is in and then he tracks his finger to another bigger trailer on the map and looks disappointed. At that I did laugh out loud, to the discomfort of the woman beside me.Funny though, it has to be said.
Every film has its flaws but Jack Reacher surpassed even my expectations. It was gritty, powerful and had great action scenes. I would love to see it again and will be buying it for the Cruise Collection when it comes out. I would even say it is one of my favourite films this year, and that is a bold statement considering the class that has come out of this year.
I will be launching a list of favourites from the year this afternoon/evening on my blog so watch out for that, otherwise, thank you for reading and I hope you go and see this film!!!