TITLE: Jack Reacher
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog, Richard Jenkins
DIRECTOR: Christopher McQuarrie
STUDIOS: Paramount Pictures, TC Productions, Skydance Productions
RELEASED: December 21, 2012
By Chris Kromphardt
Staff Writer, Justice Administrator
Jack Reacher is a fun, loose adaptation of Lee Child’s novel One Shot that should please most fans of the title character, while drawing in plenty of new fans. If the film does well at the box office, it will probably the first of a whole run of films based on Child’s bestselling series. If it flops, then this one shot still stands on own merits, namely the action and opportunity to see a great fictional hero finally brought to life.
Jack Reacher is basically military police-Batman. He has no powers beyond his strength, training, and intellect, but he uses his brain and brawn to take down challenges no ordinary man would stand a chance at. Part of the beauty of the novels is following Reacher as he disassembles the task at hand. Whether he goes looking for trouble, or trouble just happens to find him, give the man free use of his hands and brain and someone is getting their ass handed to them. Just like Batman, only Reacher has no compunctions about killing the bad guy.
Reacher is a natural character to build a movie around, just like James Bond and Jason Bourne before him. And yet, after 17 novels and counting, he’s just now making his silver screen debut. Part of the problem is the disassembling nature of Reacher’s method—it’s great reading if you’re privy to his thoughts and analyses, but it’s dull watching a guy weighing every option before letting loose. To combat this risk, the filmmakers wisely spruced up the story with some car chases and revised the final showdown to emphasize Reacher in executing rather than planning mode.
None of these changes upset me, a fairly new fan. I’ve gone through four Reacher novels in the past 18 months: The Killing Floor, Die Trying, One Shot, and my favorite so far, Gone Tomorrow. Everything that was important to telling the basic story Child tells in the novel has its counterpart in the film. This brings me to the second reason it’s hard for Reacher to translate to film—he’s such a unique character, particularly his size. Picture Brian Urlacher, linebacker for the Chicago Bears. 6’4”, 258 pounds. Can he act? Hell no. And yet, that’s roughly the size Reacher is in the novels. It would be impossible, a joke, for the filmmakers to try to match his size. So instead, wisely, the filmmakers abandoned that conceit in recreating Reacher and instead sought to translate the unstoppable essence of the character.
Tom Cruise on paper is hardly unstoppable. He’s got Little Man Syndrome and is crazy and always has to run in his movies, and this makes him an awesome butt of every joke ever. But he clearly believes he can do everything Reacher can, and that makes him a surprisingly apropos choice. The entire time I’m watching this movie—and this is partially thanks to some subtle tweaks made by the filmmakers to underpower the character—I’m buying Cruise as MP-Batman.
For this fan, that’s good enough. Now get cracking on an adaptation of Gone Tomorrow!
Front page image from nydailynews.com. Images 1 and 2 from rottentomatoes.com.
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