I must say that being a fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character I have been waiting for this movie with great anticipation. I have read all of Lee’s books with the exception of the most recent A Wanted Man and his short story Deep Down. I plan to read both soon. So I am a fan of his and of the character and having seen several of the trailers I really wanted to like the movie and hoped that I would.
However, having said that, I also went in to the movie with an open mind and with the intention of reviewing the movie fairly and as unbiased as possible. I liked the film, and overall it lived up to my expectations not only as a film but also with the way the character was brought to life and specifically how Tom Cruise did with the role.
A quick background on the character for those not familiar with Lee’s work. Jack Reacher is a former Military Policeman from the Army who now is essentially a vagabond. He travels alone with no luggage and he seems to end up at the wrong place at the right time, pretty much everywhere he goes. As far as the set up for the movie, other reviews have covered it so I won’t go in to great detail other than to say it’s a conspiracy plot similar to others you have seen. An ex-army sniper is framed for 5 murders and asks for Reacher. Now one of the biggest controversies if you can call it that, has been the casting of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.
In the book Jack Reacher is described as being 6’4” and Tom Cruise according to IMDB.com is 5’7” tall. My girlfriend swears that he is actually 5’5” tall. She says she was at an event one time and stood right next to him and he is only 5’5”, well I finally know better than to argue with a woman especially one as awesome as she is so I will just assume for the record that he is nowhere near 6’4”. Who cares? It’s amazing what a big deal this has become.
This is not the first time nor the last that people will be unhappy with the casting of a beloved character from a book. As the late great Ricky Nelson once sang “You can’t please everybody, so you may as well please yourself” Which I believe Christopher McQuarrie did and as far as I am concerned he hit a bull’s-eye by casting Cruise.
Here is a couple of examples of what I personally thought were casting “mistakes” that in my mind turned out fantastic. When Tim Burton’s Batman was announced and I heard that Michael Keaton had been cast as Batman, I couldn’t see it and thought it would be disastrous casting. Well, I loved the movie and loved Keaton as Batman. A more recent example, ironically enough also regarding Batman was when I heard that the late Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker I was very disappointed. In fact the first stills of the movie showing the Joker I was fully expecting to be very disappointed. I believed Heath was a fine actor but just the wrong choice for this iconic character. Especially after Jack Nicholson pretty much knocked it out of the park in my mind. Despite my concerns I was such a huge fan of the Batman franchise and just as importantly loved Christopher Nolan’s work I decided to keep an open mind when seeing the film. Well WOW, Heath in my mind at least on screen will forever be the Joker. He was fantastic and it shows how wrong first impressions can be.
If the only characteristic about Jack Reacher that you took away from reading the great novels is his height then I guess it could be a major deal breaker. However, for me his height is such a small part of who he is that I can look past it and suspend my disbelief, which is pretty much the point of most movies. Folks this is not meant to be a documentary. Artistic license is taken many times. Also nobody is looking for Academy Award recognition here. At least what I was looking for was a movie that was fun, had action, some humor and kept me interested. It did all of that. Jack Reacher is the epitome of the term “Popcorn Movie”
As far as I am concerned the only quality or characteristic that Tom Cruise lacked in order to portray Reacher was height. He possesses all of the other characteristics, he has the physical build and is believable as a guy who can kick your ass. He has the stoic persona and dry humor of Reacher as I have read him. So if you are a true fan of Lee Child and the Jack Reacher character you owe it to yourself to make your own decision about Tom Cruise as Reacher after and ONLY after you have gone and seen the entire movie for yourself. In fact I would say with confidence that if Lee Child had never given Reacher’s height in the book, nobody would have really noticed. It really is a non-issue and would be a shame if a true Reacher fan didn’t the movie simply because Cruise is not tall enough.
I genuinely hope that they do more Reacher features. I believe that they will improve over time and hope Cruise stays with the character for the foreseeable future. If the series is nurtured properly it could very well be a franchise with longevity similar to the Bond series. If that is the case I could envision a movie every 2-3 years which means Cruise could do them for another 8-10 years then pass the mantle to someone else.
While the movie is not the best action film I have ever seen it does largely deliver the goods. I also very much enjoyed Werner Herzog as The Zec, he oozes evil and that eye of his freaked me out, will probably have nightmares tonight. The entire cast does a fine job but for me the fabulous Robert Duvall steals the show with his one-liners. It’s always great to see him on screen.
Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a movie by the height of the main character! If you are a Reacher fan I am confident you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t know the character but love action and suspense, you won’t be disappointed.
Mauricio’s grade B
Carpe Diem and Peace