'Jack Reacher' Movie Review: Tom Cruise Rises To The Occasion
Jack Reacher: Tom Cruise, on the tips of his toes, fills a bigger man's shoes.
Let's be clear about one thing: the target demographic for this movie, and most of Cruise's later movies, is both the action-craving teenage boy as well as the slightly more picky male — the one that has a need for something more than just a nicely wrapped vision of extreme violence. Oh, I almost forgot there is also the girlfriend who got persuaded into seeing the movie because "Tom Cruise is in it." However, it is not quite the same crowd as the one impatiently waiting for the next Mission Impossible sequel. But close enough. Compared to MI this movie has slightly more of a twist to it. And it's good fun. This is more like Collateral all over again.
The plot can be blamed on an original story, which is taken from the novel The Shot by Lee Child (whose real name is Jim Grant). As the original title hints, it's about a shooter, but there're also Russian mobsters and corrupted Americans involved. It's part of a series about the cynical ex-military major Jack Reacher — an extremely tall, blond and blue-eyed brute of a man who takes the law in his own hands. The only actor who fits that description was probably busy shooting the next Thor movie when this flick was in production. Fans of this series of (17!) books rage against the choice of Cruise as main character. Can you imagine why? I guess they see this as the equivalent of casting Danny Devito as Gandalf or maybe Robert Pattinson as Mohamed Ali? But you probably have to be a serious Reacher fan to fully understand this rage.
So, how did The Shot become Jack Reacher? Doesn't this sound suspiciously like the first part of a sequel-ogy? To me it sounds Jason Bourne-ish at the least. Maybe even James Bond-ish. Is this the pilot for a whole new movie series, and if all goes well it will multiply like a virus? Why else change the name? The Shot would definitely have been the better name, if it weren't for the marketing of a serial hero's name. Or is the original name not PC enough in these days of serial shootings? And was there a secret rule among authors back in the day to name rough spies/cops/heroes names that begin with a J? If Tom plays his cards well, he'll be busy with this gig until retirement. It's hard to find a longer series of books to adapt to the silver screen.
What I think everyone should agree on is that Cruise really has a knack for this kind of acting, and he is very serious about his action movies. There is no doubt about that. He rehearses (which is not that common), does stunts himself, keeps himself extremely fit, and he definitely has the rough seriousness needed for this kind of character.
The result, largely because of Cruise's aptitude, is a great action film, no matter how dark haired, short and boyishly handsome the lead character is.
Is there a franchise danger lurking around the corner? Yes. Will this be a recurring road show to join the ranks of Bourne and Bond? Probably. Does it matter? No. The only real danger here is that when you choose Cruise as a character you get — yup, that's right — Tom. Not Jack, or Vincent (Collateral), or Ethan (MI). In this sense, three really is a crowd. What's the real difference between these franchises? It would perhaps have made more sense to give the franchise to someone else and make room for the development of a new character — a character true to the original story. This Jack Reacher is just plain old Tom, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Not bad at all. And Tom is on top of his gun.
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