Jack Reacher (12A)

Was Tom Cruise the right choice to play the part of Jack Reacher?

When a gunman takes five lives with six shots, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. On interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: “Get Jack Reacher!” So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Jack Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence and a secret to keep.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a man drives a van up floors of a parking garage across the Allegheny River from the PNC Park stadium and, after paying for parking, readies a sniper rifle in the open, away from his vehicle. He takes aim and appears to randomly kill five people around the stadium and on the river’s North Shore Trail before hurriedly fleeing in his van. The police soon arrive, headed by Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo), and they discover evidence that points to one suspect James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a trained military sniper.

During interrogation, Barr asks Emerson and the District Attorney, Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) to get Jack Reacher, a drifter and former Army Military Police officer, who arrives just as Rodin and Emerson are reviewing his file. Whilst being transported to county jail Barr is brutally attacked by his inmates. By the time Reacher (Tom Cruise) gets to him Barr has been hospitalised and is in a coma. At the hospital he meets Barr’s defence attorney, counsellor Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), the DA’s daughter, who is trying to save Barr from the death penalty.

Helen agrees for Reacher to view the case evidence if he will become her lead investigator. Reacher retorts that he’s not interested in clearing Barr, but wants to “bury” him, revealing that Barr had gone on a killing spree in during his tour in Iraq, but got off on a technicality. Reacher then vowed that if Barr tried anything like this again, he would take him down.

As Helen gathers her findings about the victims, Reacher makes some theories of his own, suggesting that not all the victims were random. After a seemingly random bar fight, Reacher realises that someone is attempting to strong-arm him into dropping his investigation, but this only fuels him and further probes him into unravelling the truth.

Reacher gets closer to the unseen enemy pulling the strings, leading him to the real perpetrators, a Russian gang masquerading as legitimate businessmen. The gang’s elderly capo spent much of his life in one of the infamous Soviet Gulags and is known only as The Zec or prisoner (Werner Herzog). Reacher outwits the mob guards in the Russian gang’s hideout, dispatching them before confronting the boss and forcing him to come clean on the conspiracy.

What an utter shambles of a movie! Author Lee Child created a killer character with Jack Reacher. A brutal ex-military officer with a thirst for justice, he’s a force to be reckoned with. 6’5″, 220-250 lbs, with a 50-inch chest is specified on Child’s website.

I am not the only one who believes that Cruise is too short (5’8″), too small (70+ lbs), and too old (10-12 years) to play the part of Jack Reacher. Fans of the book are furious. Even the best of actors (which Cruise is not) would not be able to overcome these handicaps.

Director Christopher McQuarrie did get something right. The movie is roughly based on the Reacher novel ‘One Shot’, which is set in a heartland city and the movie was shot in Pittsburgh. The law may have its limits, Jack Reacher may not any, but Tom Cruise is certainly a man with acting limitations.

By Ruth Walker
★★☆☆☆

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