‘Jack Reacher’ is an adaptation of author Lee Child’s novel ‘One Shot’ and is the first film appearance for his title character.
The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film; a sniper in a high rise building, firing indiscriminately at long distance civilian targets. We see the sniper’s point of view, see the victims in his cross-hairs and hear his heavy breathing - punctuated only by the shots fired from his rifle. This is a very tense and well handled scene, the first of many to follow.
When a man is arrested for these killings, instead of writing a confession he asks for former army investigator Jack Reacher. Enter Tom Cruise as Reacher. The 5’ 7” actor playing 6’ 5” blonde, muscle bound Reacher, Cruise’s casting had been one of contention. While Cruise is good in the film he too often is portrayed as infallible, not too dissimilar to his character Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible series – he knows all of the facts of the case before investigators, he gets in fights - winning them with minimal effort - and is generally flawless. Cruise is good as a sleuth, but comes off unconvincing as a tough guy.
The films villain is a disfigured German soldier, known as ‘The Zec’ (German for ‘the prisoner’). In an inspired case of casting, he is played by legendary German director Werner Herzog. Herzog doesn’t feature in the film a great deal but is effective and believable with his calm voice and silently menacing demeanour.
Also popping up for a cameo is Robert Duvall as a elderly soldier, now owner of a shooting range. His contribution to the film is similar to Albert Finney’s in ‘Skyfall’. A slow burner, ‘Jack Reacher’ is a great, well written and directed thriller.
By Kelan Headley