Say what you want about Tom Cruise’s personal beliefs, when it comes to his films the man never fails. He also sure knows how to hand-pick the director’s he works with also. His Mission: Impossible series alone has now featured four different directors and they’ve also managed to get better with each one; nothing short of a miracle in Hollywood at any point in time. Cruise may stand a mere 5’ 7” but make no mistake; the man is an action star through and through. And while fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels may have been up in arms over Cruise’s casting, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has managed to give him another starring vehicle that will undoubtedly get even more miles out of it than Mission: Impossible with the adaptation of One Shot, retitled to Jack Reacher.
In Pittsburgh, a sniper opens fire taking down five seemingly innocent people. Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) is called on the scene finding a single bullet shell and a quarter in the parking meter with a fingerprint belonging to James Barr (Joseph Sikora). Barr winds up in a coma after getting jumped in the prison van but not before he writes “Get Jack Reacher” on his confession statement. D.A. Rodin (Richard Jenkins) and Emerson think the case is open and shut and thinks that his daughter, Helen (Rosamund Pike) taking Barr’s defense will ruin her career. Out of the blue, Jack Reacher (Cruise) is on the scene fresh off the bus. Everyone keeps calling Barr Reacher’s friend, but Reacher is only there to try to take Barr down. That is, before he runs across a slut with a heart of gold (Alexia Fast), the world’s most inept thugs, a man known only as The Zec (Werner Herzog), John McClane Jr. err… Charlie (Jai Courtney), and a more than helpful gun range owner (Robert Duvall).
McQuarrie may only be directing his second feature, but from what I can remember about The Way of the Gun, he’s more than making up for it. McQuarrie is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter (The Usual Suspects) and it’s on full display throughout most of the runtime. Having never read the original novel I can’t say how well it’s been adapted. But on its own terms, the film is a complete knock out. Full of hilarious banter, Cruise gets to play the cocky side of his ego while bringing his Ethan Hunt sensibilities to the action scenes. Pike may be the films weakest link in the acting department, but she does a fair enough job and grew on me as the film progressed.
The film starts a tad on the serious side, but once we get past the intense opening, things lighten up but still maintains intensity. We also get treated to one of the best car chases seen in years (featuring absolutely no music mind you) and some surprisingly hilarious slapstick involving Charlie’s henchmen. McQuarrie also squeezes in a hilarious joke about why you shouldn’t play with guns. With a run time of a whopping 130 minutes I feared the film would be far too long, but McQuarrie keeps things moving along and I never once cared how much time was left. What that really says is that Jack Reacher, as a film and series, is a welcome addition to the fold.
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