Director Christopher McQuarrie returns to the big screen with the hard-hitting action thriller Jack Reacher, starring the always dependable Tom Cruise. Jack Reacher may not reinvent the genre with its basic plot, simple action and general light tone, but it’s all of these things in the hands of McQuarrie and Cruise that make Jack Reacher a highly effective piece of action that’s very reminiscent of the 80s/90s.
Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a former Military Police Major now turned ghost. He can’t be found unless he wants to be and he can’t be bribed or reasoned with unless it’s in the good name of law and order. Reacher is asked for personally by a man that has possibly killed several people by way of his own sniper rifle. The man claims that he’s innocent and tells the cops to get one man and that man is Jack Reacher.
Reacher shows up and quickly assists a lawyer by the name of Helen (Rosamund Pike) in the investigation, which also involves a cop named Emerson (David Oyelowo) and District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins). The more Reacher digs into the case the more he finds inconsistencies, which also leads to the mysterious man known only as The Zec (Werner Herzog).
How The Zec ties into the sniper shooting and the rest of the puzzle is something for Reacher to find out and for you to sit back and enjoy.
Jack Reacher feels like a really good episode of any modern day criminal investigation television show. I mean that in a good way, because director Christopher McQuarrie smartly pays attention to the film’s investigation side of things, which eventually makes way for the bone-crunching action. Reacher isn’t your typical piece of action fluff that relies on a giant A-lister getting into a dozen fights with extremely armed men or even a shootout with lots of damage caused. Oh no, Reacher is more of an old-fashion styled action film that relies heavily on the likability of its lead to carry the film.
Tom Cruise absolutely nails the character of Jack Reacher. He’s always the smartest/quickest/toughest guy in the room and he plays that to his advantage almost every second that he gets. You not once question Cruise’s ability as an actor, because he makes it so that you don’t even care about the logic of any of it. You simply love watching Jack Reacher solve the crimes or beat up the bad guys and this is because of Cruise’s constant spot-on line delivery and general on-screen charming nature. He’s a hard guy to hate in a film like this.
And that only goes so far. Eventually one will get sick of any leading character if there’s not a story worth digging into or action worth chewing popcorn over. Luckily for us Christopher McQuarrie is working behind the lens, which means well-measured doses of both action and plot. The plot is admittedly light and compact, but McQuarrie uses that in his favor and keeps Reacher moving at a steady pace, rarely pit stopping on tiny information for no more than five minutes.
What makes Jack Reacher stick out so much is its action. McQuarrie has an eye for actually showing you the hard hits and letting you feel the blow back. Reacher has a lot of scenes consisting of Tom Cruise going one-on-one with a half dozen bad guys and McQuarrie does a great job selling the entire thing. The hand-to-hand combat is calculated and choreographed enough to the point that it looks rather real, while also still working as a simple piece of action.
McQuarrie’s control over the camera maximizes each and every piece of action, allowing the viewer to understand each and every beat, opposed to the usual shaky cam mess that so many action directors have employed.
The car sequences are even better, with Cruise doing all of his own stunts and McQuarrie capturing them with a steady hand and lots of controlled cutting. Jack Reacher constantly feels like a throwback to the 90s or 80s; when action films were simple, yet still effective and not completely over-the-top.
There are a lot of things in Jack Reacher that can be described as over-the-top, like Werner Herzog’s The Zec, who literally emerges from the shadows with a funny accent and a scarred eye that scares off even the toughest of guys. This is a trademark villain that relies heavily on the mystery. Herzog almost overcooks it as Zec, but it’s just too much fun to get worked up over. He’s simply taking the material and giving it his own unique flavor and it works well with Cruise’s more traditional approach.
Jack Reacher is one of 2012’s better action films. It relies not on special effects or fancy camera tricks to sell you on the action and instead just traditional angles and shots and a lot of charisma and talent from its leading man Tom Cruise and its director Christopher McQuarrie. Those looking for a straight-faced serious action picture will want to stay clear of Jack Reacher, because it’s reserved for those looking to have fun and not be insulted while doing so.
Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Paramount’s 1080p transfer of Jack Reacher is absolutely perfect. This is a very deep transfer that features rich and endless black levels, while also balancing out a grain-like structure that never gets in the way of the overall clarity. The film is full of smoother and much more quiet colors than one might come to expect from an action film, but not once does that lower the quality of this spectacular release.
The exact same can be said for the film’s 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. There’s not a single gunshot that goes unheard as bullets rip and roar across all channels and dialogue comfortably nestles itself on the front channels. The track is great all-over.
Paramount gives Jack Reacher a fair amount of bonus content. Here’s a complete list below:
- Audio Commentary with Tom Cruise & Christopher McQuarrie
- Audio Commentary with Composer Joe Kramer
- When the Man Comes Around (HD)
- You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons (HD)
- The Reacher Phenomenon (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
- Digital Copy
- DVD Copy
Jack Reacher is Tom Cruise reminding the world why he’s still one of the best stars working in Hollywood. He takes what could have been a phoned-in role and gives it his all, resulting in one bad ass icon of a character that I hope we see more of. Christopher McQuarrie compliments Cruise’s old-school mentality with a direction that’s very pulled back and restrained, yet highly effective and amusing.
This is a must-own Blu-Ray that features perfect video and audio presentations as well as a healthy amount of supplements to warrant further investigating. Jack Reacher is one of the best action films of 2012 and certainly one of the most entertaining Tom Cruise films in recent years. It’s up there with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol as one of those films that Cruise elevates to the next level with his approach and delivery.
You might find yourself enjoying Jack Reacher far more than you would have expected and if that does happen just know that it’s because Cruise and McQuarrie know how to deliver action that’s violent, funny and engaging, yet not completely mindless or offensively dumb.
Christopher McQuarrie's Jack Reacher is that rare blend of hard-hitting action and smooth-talking dialogue that makes for an entertaining film that knows exactly how serious to take itself. Tom Cruise is at top form as the world's smartest/fastest/toughest all-around bad ass.