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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Tom Cruise
David Oyelowo
Rosamund Pike
Richard Jenkins
Robert Duvall.
Directors
Christopher McQuarrie.
Screenwriters
Christopher McQuarrie.
Running Time
130 minutes

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Jack Reacher
Small but perfectly formed


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Plot
A sniper executes six random people in cold blood, then issues the demand: “Get me Jack Reacher.” Is the case as cut and dried as it seems, or can Reacher (Cruise) get to the truth before the truth gets to him?


Review
Jack Reacher
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And so to one of life’s perennial questions, one over which many have moaned and many more have fretted. Does, as Godzilla’s tagline so memorably claimed, size really matter? Thankfully for all of us, Tom Cruise’s take on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher via Chris McQuarrie seems to settle the argument once and for all in the negative.

The inevitable Internet Armageddon that greeted the news of Cruise’s casting as Child’s 6’ 5” military cop/lone wolf/fanny magnet must have been viewed by the studio as the very definition of a mixed blessing. The fans may have been moaning but, in a world where the word ‘meh’ appears to now qualify as considered critique, at least the fuckers cared.

As it happens, Cruise and McQuarrie comfortably prove their thesis; that the spirit of Reacher lies not in his height but in his character. Our introduction to their hero is brilliantly witty, playing up many of the novels’ erotic extravagances with a sequence that refuses to show Reacher’s face. Instead, we open on the back of his head, viewing him watching the news in bed while an anonymous broad — clearly satisfied — pulls up her drawers next to him, before following the back of his head down the street, his physical impressiveness reflected in the flirting faces of every woman he passes.

Later, with the typical economy of a screenwriter as smart as the man behind The Usual Suspects, we cut to authorities Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo sitting in an office questioning how the hell they can track down a man who is plain off the grid. They are, they conclude, stuffed. There’s a beat. Then a secretary enters the room. “I have a Jack Reacher here for you,” she says. Their reaction shot is priceless.

Though the movie is peppered with these lovely light touches — a grandstanding car chase, for instance, ends with a glorious grace note — that’s not to say that McQuarrie and Cruise have underestimated the pull Reacher — now on book 17, let’s not forget — has on his audience. This is pure wish fulfilment, a resolutely hard-edged thriller, a down and dirty Bond that supercedes the expectations of a 12A rating. The violence here is full-force. Thumbs disappear into eye sockets, baseball bats hit home with shocking sound effects and, in a scene already making a late run for best of the year, we first meet Reacher’s nemesis, The Zec (played with sinister raised eyebrow by the inspired casting of Werner Herzog), down a dark alley in which he does something so dark you will not look at your fingers in the same way ever again.

Ardent Reacher fans will note slight changes to the story — as per its original title, this is based on adventure One Shot — but they are largely smart omissions, jettisoning the odd supporting character in favour of sheer momentum. The screenplay’s misstep is to cut down much of The Zec’s backstory from the novel, the personal history that made him such a threat sadly missing and diminishing his on-screen menace. But, while fans won’t find any major surprises in terms of story, newcomers will be treated to a plot that, from a brutal and bravura opening sequence, consistently wrong-foots its audience all the way through to a satisfying climax.

The cast deliver the twists with confidence and are uniformly top drawer — not least the legendary Robert Duvall and newcomer Jai Courtney, who more than justifies his casting as McClane Jr. in the upcoming A Good Day To Die Hard with a knockout turn as a chief henchman. Cruise, meanwhile, does enough to silence the naysayers prepared to be open to interpretation (and he could actually grow a foot and the others still wouldn’t be convinced, so what’s the point in worrying?)

Ultimately, though, the standout performance here comes from McQuarrie, who follows up his woefully under-appreciated The Way Of The Gun with a control and restraint that gives great tribute to the touchpoint movies he spends much of this running time referencing. Where action-cinema has been bogged down recently in fast cuts and incoherent fight sequences, here is a movie that has Dirty Harry in its sights and ’70s cinema pumping through its veins. From the harsh (the horrific opening sniper attack) to the humorous (Reacher in a three-way fight that boasts some Stooge-level slapstick), McQuarrie marshals his pack with a cocky panache that would be admirable from a seasoned pro, let alone a screenwriter going sophomore.


Verdict
Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise deliver on their promise, with a witty, violent take on Reacher that makes up for its lack of height with an abundance of smarts and thrills.


Reviewed by Mark Dinning

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Jack Reacher
Empire Star Rating

Jack does not reach us

Ok... so I have not read any Jack Reacher books and do not want to after this shocking pile of rubbish. I will admit the trailer did have me intrigued, but the film itself is just tedious, boring and in whole a film to boost Tom Cruise's ego (which is big enough already). There is really no need for this movie to made and by the end of it you don't care about any of the characters and would rather spend the times getting trampled on in the sales! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by J_BUltimatum at 00:40, 28 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Seen it twice, reviewing it twice.

I was one of those people rather non-plussed by the trailer and, being unfamiliar with the source series of books, I failed to get into the hype of whether or not Tom Cruise was the right guy to play the titular character. With all that in mind, Jack Reacher is a pleasant surprise. The star of the show here is the writing. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie has produced a script which zips along with one liners and no small amount of wit and charm. It is this script which helps along... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Groovy Mule at 00:06, 28 December 2012 | Report This Post


Seen it twice, reviewing it twice.

Even if I wasn't a massive fan of the books. And a fan of Cruise too. I think I would still love this movie. It's a neat story, told superbly well. McQuarrie has done an outstanding job. It's a proper old-fashioned, but not out-dated, lean thriller. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 21:56, 27 December 2012 | Report This Post


It is utterly brilliant.

To all the haters: being tall is a characteristic. I am one of the biggest Jack Reacher fans out there. I was just as shocked/annoyed by the casting of Cruise as anyone. But the simple truth is: being tall is not a talent. Acting like Jack Reacher is, and Cruise pulls it off. He delivers on what Reacher is really about, the wit, the charm, the violence and the smart, cool-logic thinking. It is a terrific adaptation of the book and the character as a whole. The ending shot/mini scene is Reacher e... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 17:55, 26 December 2012 | Report This Post


Not sure why the need for such filthy language in this review, but seems par for the course these days. Film sounds distinctly average, in line with much Tom Cruise does these days. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Letattz at 19:25, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


Bravo :)

The plot's as twisty as you'd expect with this sort of thing, but it still runs out of steam long before Cruise does. At 130 minutes, it's too long, and the last half hour or so just seems like stalling rather than wrapping up proceedings to their inevitable conclusion. That said, it never gets out-and-out boring as it's relentlessly cheesy and quippy even when it's resting. The bottom line is, I enjoyed this far more than I probably should have. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 21:28, 23 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: No way!!!!!

L: UncleMonkeyTrousers @Johnd1971 The thing I see, is that it will be a lot of people who have enjoyed the books coming to see this, and over the course of 15 odd books, people have an image in their heads of what the character will be like. This is the audience that might get pissed off at Reacher not being a massive brick shite house as he is described. As film fans, we know that changes will happen, e.g.: Constantine goes from a blonde Liverpudlian, to Ted Theodore Logan but... More

Posted by sharkboy at 15:14, 14 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Get over it!

L: thelimeyone It seems to me the height argument is strangely reminicent of the fuss about Daniel Craig being a blonde Bond. agree. It's also worth pointing out that Christian Bale was Batman, Andrew Garfield is Spiderman and Henry Cavill Superman, the three biggest comic book heroes all played by Brits. As far as I know there hasn't been much, if any negative reaction to that in America. However, you can bet if an American was picked to play Bond (once Daniel Craig ends his very g... More

Posted by carlrogers22 at 14:38, 14 December 2012 | Report This Post


Get over it!

It seems to me the height argument is strangely reminicent of the fuss about Daniel Craig being a blonde Bond. Height/hair colour is not a critical factor in casting an actor. Can they perform the role? Empire thinks he can so I will go and see and decide for myself. If the author of the books isn't bothered by the height then maybe we should at least watch the film before making an opinion. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by thelimeyone at 13:13, 14 December 2012 | Report This Post


Get over it!

It seems to me the height argument is strangely reminicent of the fuss about Daniel Craig being a blonde Bond. Height/hair colour is not a critical factor in casting an actor. Can they perform the role? Empire thinks he can so I will go and see and decide for myself. If the author of the books isn't bothered by the height then maybe we should at least watch the film before making an opinion. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by thelimeyone at 13:13, 14 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: No way!!!!!

ore (still) knows the score, though..t he just though, bless him. I agree with all you said and as a wolverine fan I have to set my expectation pretty low when it comes to movie adoptions Staying with the Magic Man as a perfect example, The League, V for vendetta (which I read as a militant student in the eighties whilst Thatcher was parading around in her jack boots so this series had a special place in my literary heart) and from hell. None were 1/100th of the originals. Was ... More

Posted by johnd1971 at 17:52, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Did no one watch Dark Knight Rises...?

L: Fozola At the end of the day, what the fuck happened to The Mask? e fuck happened to Constantine was played by a midget for fucks sake! Nick Fury...Electro... moaned about these characters being completely changed for movie exposureat difference does it make really (ok I was fucked off with the Mask but hey...) Never read a book, don't give a shit...gonna give it a go! Oh right. I must have imagined all the people complaining about the changes to Constantine. My bad. As for Nick ... More

Posted by Harry Tuttle at 17:45, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: No way!!!!!

@Johnd1971 The thing I see, is that it will be a lot of people who have enjoyed the books coming to see this, and over the course of 15 odd books, people have an image in their heads of what the character will be like. This is the audience that might get pissed off at Reacher not being a massive brick shite house as he is described. As film fans, we know that changes will happen, e.g.: Constantine goes from a blonde Liverpudlian, to Ted Theodore Logan but overall the film wasn't too... More

Posted by UncleMonkeyTrousers at 17:17, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: No way!!!!!

Oh I see, so we are still in the world of "if it is in the Book it must be in the movie" Why is it Movie Fans are the least receptive to artist direction? Musicians have always been able to put their own spin on another artists work. I doubt Paul Mcartney opened an account at his local builders yard Yesterday *see what i did there* so he can get his hands on 4000 plus bricks to lob through windows. Authors such as Bernard cornwell "Sharp" (btw Sharp was from London Sean Bean yor... More

Posted by johnd1971 at 13:26, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


Did no one watch Dark Knight Rises...?

At the end of the day, what the fuck happened to The Mask? What the fuck happened to Constantine...Bane was played by a midget for fucks sake! Nick Fury...Electro... No one moaned about these characters being completely changed for movie exposure and what difference does it make really (ok I was fucked off with the Mask but hey...) Never read a book, don't give a shit...gonna give it a go! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Fozola at 13:11, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: No way!!!!!

L: katzkid I have been a fan of the Reacher stories since the beginning, and the character cannot be sustained by a midget. The basic ingredient in the tales is the intimidating presence of Jack Reacher, and no 5"6-7' b] is the answer. Cruise is not even a very good actor without all of the special effects he's had support of lately, even that didn't save "Valkerie". Lee Child sold out. ettle. Black Only read the first couple of Jack Reacher novels to date and I must admit the... More

Posted by Brundlesflies at 09:36, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE:

L: Miikesmama One thing I will never understand: ives directors to take bit parts in films??? Herzog in this, Roman Polanski in Rush Hour, wtf?ote] Let's not sidestep what really matters here. Bottom line.... L: Qwerty Norris Can't wait to see Herzog play a deplorable bastard.ote] L: Deviation WHO CARES WERNER HERZOG AS AN EVIL BASTARD L: Deviation WHO CARES WERNER HERZOG AS AN EVIL BASTARD ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 08:54, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


One thing I will never understand: What drives directors to take bit parts in films??? Herzog in this, Roman Polanski in Rush Hour, wtf? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Miikesmama at 03:02, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: No way!!!!!

L: katzkid I have been a fan of the Reacher stories since the beginning, and the character cannot be sustained by a midget. The basic ingredient in the tales is the intimidating presence of Jack Reacher, and no 5"6-7' troll is the answer. Cruise is not even a very good actor without all of the special effects he's had support of lately, even that didn't save "Valkerie". Lee Child sold out. HO CARES WERNER HERZOG AS AN EVIL BASTARD ... More

Posted by Deviation at 01:21, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


No way!!!!!

I have been a fan of the Reacher stories since the beginning, and the character cannot be sustained by a midget. The basic ingredient in the tales is the intimidating presence of Jack Reacher, and no 5"6-7' troll is the answer. Cruise is not even a very good actor without all of the special effects he's had support of lately, even that didn't save "Valkerie". Lee Child sold out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by katzkid at 19:15, 12 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Not buying it

L: rob_devitt The entire heart of the character is his size. It's his defining characteristic. hat's a pretty shit defining characteristic. ... More

Posted by directorscut at 16:42, 12 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Not buying it

Obvious trolling signature is obvious. ... More

Posted by UTB at 14:49, 12 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Not buying it

BUT TOM CRUISE ISN'T BLONDE ! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 13:56, 12 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Not buying it

L: rob_devitt It may be a good movie but it could be that without being called Jack Reacher. The entire heart of the character is his size. It's his defining characteristic. This isn't anything against Cruise but Jack Reacher is a 6 foot 5 brick shit house. end of story. HO CARES WERNER HERZOG AS AN EVIL BASTARD ... More

Posted by Deviation at 13:51, 12 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE:

Looks like it could be a lot of fun. Can't wait to see Werner Herzog play a deplorable bastard. ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 04:33, 12 December 2012 | Report This Post


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