The internet. For some it has broadened their horizons and opened up new worlds and new possibilities. For movie makers, it seems to have opened up more efficient ways of piracy and placed upon them the "power of the angry geek." Films have found themselves under attack even before the cameras have started to roll.
The first big screen outing of author Lee Childs' best selling anti-hero came under such fire when Cruise was announced as playing the part of drifting investigator Jack Reacher. His height, his looks, his frame - all were dragged into the mud-slinging arena. It was Interview With The Vampire all over again.
They were wrong then, and they're wrong now.
In the hands of first time big screen director McQuarrie, who is best known for his penmanship rather than his camerawork (writer of Valkyrie, The Usual Suspects, The Tourist and here on Jack Reacher) we clearly get to see that he knows how to set up good characters with great introductions. After an unusually nail-biting opening sequence where a sniper opens fire on seemingly random members of the public (unusual because not only are men targeted, but women and girls carrying children...yes, you read that right, children!) he smoothly moves onto the task of introducing our anti-hero. Not unlike the intro to Indiana Jones, the beginning shots of Cruise's Reacher doesn't show his face, just his back of head and side shots. The only thing we get to see is the reactions by every female that interacts with him - something fun that runs throughout the entire film with women trying to contain their desire for him. This clearly is a man with presence despite not being 6"5" as described in the books.
The tone is then further set with a "you can see it coming but it's funny nonetheless" sequence where Oyelowo's cop and Jenkins DA brood over how impossible it is to find a man like Reacher let alone ask him for help after reviewing his file only to have him....well, you can guess the rest. These kind of smile-inducing moments are scattered throughout the films 130 minute running time but none are more so delightful than Reacher blending into his surroundings to avoid capture from Oyelowo's men after a slightly overlong but enjoyable car chase through the city.
The saving grace and the Achilles Heel for the film though lies squarely with its villains. Courtney is a believable match for Cruise in the shooting and hand-to-hand combat sequences (so maybe there IS hope for A Good Day To Die Hard after all then as he plays McClane's son in the fifth outing) but it is the big boss - an underused and very sketchily written Herzog - that feels flat. With a "hinted at" and hastily drawn out back story, Herzog's big bad boss no more elicits fear from the audience than what Reacher feels when he goes up against 5 paid thugs in a bar. There's no need to even break a sweat.
So, with 17 books out in the public domain concerning Jack Reacher, no doubt the studio is hoping that this could be their next new franchise. Of course, only time will tell whether Jack's reach can extend to a sequel but with Cruise seemingly making films left, right and centre and with an already block busting franchise up his sleeve (Mission: Impossible), a return to Reacher could be a hard thing to come by unless of course the ticket stubs go extra crazy for it.
Fun, witty and enjoyable to watch - both the film and it's female lead, Pike - it's worth a trip to check it out but do yourself a favour.... let the whole height thing go if you've read the book and just sit back and take it all in. You'll be pleasantly surprised!.
UK release date: 21.12.12