Jack Reacher is the new Tom Cruise movie. Based on the novel One Shot by Lee Child (who manages to pop up in a cameo – something that I intend to make sure is in the contract of any novel I ever write and sell the movie rights to), we should really talk straight away about the elephant in the room. As any reader of Jack Reacher novels knows, Jack Reacher is a BIG guy. Six foot five inches tall (or 1 metre 96 cm for our metric friends), 250lbs (or 115kg) with a 50 inch chest – for sake of comparison, that’s the kind of physique reserved for barely mortals such as Wladimir Klitschko or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. So when news hit the interwebs that Jack Reacher was going to be played by the slightly more vertically challenged, Mr Cruise, well – frankly – there was uproar...
So the first big question– and it’s one that has vexed men for millennia – is, does size matter? And, gentlemen, you’re going to be sighing with some relief when I tell you "no it does not". What matters is what you do with it, and what Tom Cruise manages to do with it is work some tough guy magic in a role that I think I subconsciously wanted to dislike him in.
The story revolves around the shooting of five random people by a sniper who rather conveniently leaves enough evidence behind that the police are at his home arresting him barely moments later. It’s a fix, he cries; I've been stitched up! Or at least, that’s what he should have cried but, instead, Mr Barr our banged-to-rights sniper merely slides a piece of paper across the table with three words on it - GET JACK REACHER.
And, like some kind of psychic bat signal, it works because while the cops and the DA are still busy worrying how they go about tracking down the mysterious Mr Reacher, he turns up unannounced on their doorstep. But much like Mark Anthony and Caesar, he’s not come to praise Mr Barr he’s come to bury him. Which seems to promise a rather short movie – sniper kills people, Jack Reacher comes and says ‘good riddance’, roll credits...
But, wait, it would be stupid to stop there – wannabe helpful defence lawyer – played by Rosamund Pike convinces him to stay around and work as her investigator and he’s soon busying poking his nose in all manner of places. For those of you unfamiliar with Jack Reacher , he’s an ex- military police officer who ditched the army and now wanders around America stumbling upon all manner of criminal ne’er-do-wells – it’s a bit like Scooby Doo and the Gang without Scooby Doo, or indeed the gang, and instead of a bloke dressed up as ghostly diver there are Russian mafia bosses who force their underlings to chew off their own fingers to demonstrate their loyalty.
Fortunately, Jack Reacher is more than a match for pretty much anyone or anything that crosses his path – he has the martial prowess of James Bond and Chuck Norris rolled into one, the detective skills of Columbo and a memory like Sheldon Cooper. And yes, let me say again, Tom Cruise does a great job of convincing us on all counts – he kicks ass with the best of them in this movie with an air of somewhat detached brutality as he dispatches all manner of brutish thugs. Knees are cracked, eyes are gouged and testicles are pummelled into submission - he even manages to find time to knock someone out with the repeated use of someone else’s head.
There’s an obligatory car chase and an obligatory whiff of romantic attraction but I won’t spoil any more details of the plot or of the myriad twists, turns and low-down double crosses that unfurl during the courses of the movie. Nor will I venture onto the narrative thin ice that might just crack beneath my feet if I prod some of the contrivances of the plot with any real gusto – because frankly, it’s not that kind of movie.
If you want deep and meaningful, you need to look elsewhere. Jack Reacher is a movie to enjoy with some popcorn and some beer; to sit back and watch Tom Cruise convince us that he doesn’t need to be 6’5” in order to kick the ass of anything short of Godzilla. I wanted not to like it but, nevertheless, it turns out I did. It’s not the sort of movie I’ll remember much of in a few months time but, if you want a bit of testosterone-fuelled fun, with a few humorous moments - and you feel like it’s about time someone did a movie like this that didn’t star Jason Statham - then I can recommend you go enjoy a bit of Jack Reacher.