Saturday, 22 December 2012

Film Review: Jack Reacher (2012)

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney and Richard Jenkins

Jack Reacher is something of a rare treat for 2012. It’s a film which gets its style and pacing from the late 60’s and 70’s and doesn’t give up on those convictions despite several opportunities to explode into ‘blockbuster’ territory and fill the screen with explosions, fights, and carnage. So often a film will ‘pay homage’ to gritty and no-nonsense genre milestones from Lumet, Friedkin, or Siegel but too often they cannot help but stay off course. Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher is one such film that delivers exactly what 2012 needed; a blast from the past.

Christopher McQuarrie shot to fame with his script for The Usual Suspects but after directing the greatly unappreciated The Way of the Gun in 2000, he didn’t return to directing until now. The pacing and shout-it-from-the-rooftops-gloriously CGI-free approach he has taken in making Jack Reacher an old-fashioned thriller makes you wonder why there was ever a 12 year gap. This is undoubtedly one of the most impressive examples of directing of the year as it is so understated in the action scenes and constantly intriguing without ever pandering to the apparent needs of the modern audience (slow motion, action every five minutes, and handheld camera). The opening sequence is one the best examples of storytelling I may have seen this year; an essential part of the plot and the need to capture the audience from the very start with no dialogue means that every scene and every cut must be for a reason, and it is.

The film goes from strength to strength from there onwards; even if it’s not overly thrilling or action packed (the first major action scene doesn’t occur until after an hour), McQuarrie ties everything together without a wasted scene or cheap exposition-filled dialogue. There is a car chase which is comparable to To Live And Die In LA as it is both exciting and superbly executed, it is a ‘realistic’ as a car chase can get and picks upon Reacher’s intelligence rather than his force; Reacher doesn’t smash through cars to escape, he uses them a blockades against each other.

The film is sold in the trailers as essentially a Tom Cruise big-budget action fest, but it’s much more a police procedure picture, the difference being Reacher isn’t a cop and isn’t bound by laws and protocol. Like Harry Callahan or Popeye Doyle, Reacher only cares about getting the job done and punishing those who deserve it. This is Tom Cruise in more of a Collateral or Minority Report territory than Mission: Impossible or Top Gun in that he rarely smiles or is the All-American hero (which I love, just for the record) but rather he is mean and moody, playing a man who has depth and real character. His charisma shines through in every scene and is totally believable as the military investigator who is always one step ahead, but equally great when he is forced to use his brute force when words just won’t do.

The film is violent and brutal when it needs to be and is a top-end 12A certificate, even cut to avoid a 15, but doesn’t hold any punches (no pun intended) in the action department as Reacher takes out the bad guys with a vengeance when he’s pushed. In other scenes, it was refreshing to see a character give the people who confront him a chance to walk away or warn them they’ll end up on the losing side. McQuarrie’s script is dangerous, interesting, grounded, and humorous making it a highly satisfying mix.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: Jack Reacher is the patient man’s thriller but the patience is well worth investing in for those who want character-led not action-led thrills. If rumour is to be believed, McQuarrie and Cruise may re-team for the fifth Mission: Impossible film; one can only image what they’ll deliver when the action is turned all the way up.

1 comment:

  1. Movies are just that. If adapted from a book or a person's life then the expectation is always there for something. I did not know anything about either that this was suppose to be based on. I am glad so I could go with an open mind and just let the movie happen. It was a great journey of action, and mystery as you puzzled through the twists. The people in the movie were cast well and did a great job of pulling us into their character.The story kept us waiting for the next turn in the plot. This was well worth seeing and looking forward to he next one. So tired of people making an issue of how tall, short, big or little actors are. This was not a factor in this movie so get over it and enjoy this movie.