I knew a mere three things about Jack Reacher before I saw it. First was that it was called Jack Reacher, second was that Tom Cruise was in it, and lastly that it was a……film.
I strongly suggest moviegoers know a little more than I did about Jack Reacher whenever they see a film, as it can possibly taint your enjoyment of it, as it potentially did for me for this particular film. Obviously I had to spend a bit more time figuring out who the characters were and what the main premise was. Of course knowing as little as possible about a movie can make it more of a surprise. I sometimes think that reviews and trailers give a little too much away, but then again how else will the reviewers talk about the themes and characters and how else will the distributors market the film?
What I didn’t know was that this film was based on a 2005 novel by Lee Child called One Shot, which is just one title in the long running Jack Reacher book series. A new instalment has been released every year since 1997 (except 2010, with two). Why they chose this particular one to adapt to film is beyond me, I’m guessing they believed it would look good as an action film.
Former U.S. Army sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is arrested after murdering five people with a sniper rifle. In custody, Barr writes “Get Jack Reacher” on a notepad. Jack Reacher is a mysterious and rarely seen figure who served in the army with Barr and makes an appearance after hearing about Barr’s arrest. He hesitantly investigates for Barr’s defence attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), who wants to save Barr from the death penalty.
The two main cast members, Cruise and Pike, play a very cool pair of mystery solvers. Rodin seems very interested in Reacher as a person, which I think extends to the audience. Reacher and Sikora’s characters feel believable and interesting. Using Sikora, who I believe to be an unknown actor (I never heard of him and he has no Wikipedia article so I think that’s a fair assumption) certainly worked in a role like this, where the audience doesn’t know if he’s guilty or not.
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The twist when one of the cops is revealed to be on the same side as the Russian villains was left unexplained, which left me feeling a bit cheated. It’s not a horror movie, where villains without motives are scarier, it’s a murder mystery and this void undermined the revelations.
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The action is good and the story is easy enough to follow, which is complimented by good acting, but I feel something is missing to make it great. I have a feeling it’s the plot that feels a bit underdeveloped, and some of the characters are too.
If you see Jack Reacher you will see excellent action scenes, interesting characters and an unravelling murder mystery. If this is the kind of film you want to see, and if you like Tom Cruise, chances are you’ll enjoy Jack Reacher. There are a few flaws here and there, but this film has a lot going for it. I’m giving it 3.5/5.