Release Date: 20 December 2012
Running Time: 130 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie; based on 'One Shot' by Lee Child
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, David Oyelowo, Jai Courtney, Werner Herzog
Plot: Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me. And sure enough, ex-military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. He knows this shooter-a trained military sniper who never should have missed a shot. Reacher is certain something is not right-and soon the slam-dunk case explodes. Now Reacher is teamed with a beautiful young defense lawyer, moving closer to the unseen enemy who is pulling the strings. Reacher knows that no two opponents are created equal. This one has come to the heartland from his own kind of hell. And Reacher knows that the only way to take him down is to match his ruthlessness and cunning-and then beat him shot for shot.
Probably, yes and probably, no. In Jack Reacher, the drifter (Tom Cruise) with the unorthodox skills of investigation was summoned after a random shooting in Pittsburgh that kills five people. The perpetrator is James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a former army sharpshooter. Reacher works with Barr’s defending lawyer, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) to investigate the shooting as there are some dubious details of the event which may prove Barr is innocent. Their investigation leads them to a dangerous exposition that involves high-level corporate foul play and the duo becomes a target of inconvenient for a hired killer (Jai Courtney) and a Russian operative known only as The Zec (Werner Herzog).
This first Jack Reacher movie, based upon One Shot, is supposed to be a great introduction opportunity for a possible franchise. While McQuarrie handled certain departments well, there are some left unchecked too, thus exposing the film’s vulnerability to unwarranted excitements. Foremost, the setup of the characters is intriguing yet ample to allow them to grow along the plot as it expands into more frightening and shocking moments that also co-exist. There are some appraisal moments of smart, directive and reliable arc story to drive the plot, as some of the thing McQuarrie managed to infuse correctly into the movie. His presentation and direction of Jack Reacher mixes with various elements so foreign to the Lee Child’s version with the use of unexpected terrifying shocker, playful-yet-sarcastic dialogues and a different side of Jack Reacher.
In this version, Tom Cruise sells a slightly different Jack Reacher, who is not physical but incorporates a more stocky investigative character – counterbalancing a vicious side on one end and a brainy side on another end. There are also shrewder of mysteries blanketing most of the other characters – in particular to Barr, Charlie the hitman and The Zec. It is interesting to note, though, that these characters were merely undeveloped to cater figurative questions right till the end. Much of the characters serve only as the one-note, one-dimensional roles and they are not given more room to unleash more influences into the plot. In the end, the plot becomes too stereotypical.
From the beginning of the movie, the acidity test developed is to pass on an important judgement of whether Barr is innocent or guilty. The test runs throughout the movie but the outer-look of Jack Reacher appears to play more like a cross-over elements between NCIS and The Mentalist. If he is innocent, who is the real perpetrator? If he is not, what is his motive after all? These fundamental questions are often an arc for a weekly episode of any procedural drama. While it is interesting to continue to develop theory to test who Barr really is, the inconsistency of the pacing proves to be a large problem. The pacing is slow and at times been unattractive, hence this movie becomes nothing more than an overlong episode of such said drama.
Christopher McQuarrie’s adaptation and Tom Cruise’s charisma over the subject and the character will not likely to win new fans nor will it be a satisfactory pleaser for the faithful followers of the Lee Child novels. As there are plenty of differences between the book and the movie itself, it is fortunate that McQuarrie smart direction, guides this silver screen version from ruining the book down to the core. There are some good things about this movie, as there are some unnecessary things in this movie too. Call it a hit and a miss opportunity – but I believe this version could have ends up bigger and bolder.
In the end, Jack Reacher is a modest thriller that makes use of the intriguing concept and excellent dialogue to carry the plot so well but only to be hurt by a questionable pacing and undeveloped supporting characters.