CATEGORIES Movie NewsWhen word first leaked that Tom Cruise would be bringing Jack Reacher to life on the big screen in Jack Reacher, fans of the Lee Child book series were none too pleased. After all, the literary version of Reacher is a hulking mass of a man, a muscle-bound 6'5".
Cruise, on the other hand, is a slight 5'8". Sure, he's obviously been hitting the gym and bulking up his frame lately (as evidenced in his shirtless Rock of Ages scenes), but even still, he's hardly an imposing figure.
He is, however, a great action star. He's among an elite group of actors who are able to master dramatic moments, witty quips and epic chase scenes -- all key components to pulling off well-rounded action flicks that require more thought than, say, The Expendables. (In case you're wondering, I would also place the likes of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in this category.)
That may be why the idea of Cruise embodying Reacher seems to have slowly grown on people. Unfortunately, in spite of Cruise's best efforts, the movie falls flat. In fact, this is probably Cruise's biggest misfire since the 2010 embarrassment Knight & Day, in which he starred opposite Cameron Diaz. Jack Reacher's failings certainly can't be blamed entirely on Cruise, or any of the other actors, for that matter. His high caliber co-stars Rosamund Pike (Pride & Prejudice), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), David Oyelow (Lincoln) and legendary director Werner Herzog all deliver solid performances.
The problem is with the script. The movie plays out as a bad episode of a mediocre procedural crime show. It's not particularly suspenseful, its lead characters aren't relatable, and at 2 hours and 10 minutes, it clocks in about 20 minutes longer than it needs to be.
It's a shame, too. Reacher held a lot of promise. It has a great cast, it's based on a fascinating character, and it has a talented writer/director at the helm in the form of Christopher McQuarrie. Sadly, instead of becoming his next The Way of the Gun, Reacher has more in common with the notorious 2010 flop he co-wrote, The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.
The most glaring misstep (in my view, anyway), is that the screenplay failed to tailor the character to reflect Cruise's considerably less imposing stature. Case in point (without giving anything away): in one scene, the police ask a motel worker if any of the guests look like they could have killed someone with a single punch. The motel worker instantly directs them to Cruise's Reacher.
Seriously? When I think of someone who could kill a person with a single punch, Cruise isn't exactly the first person who springs to mind. The Reacher of the book, sure. That hulking beast of a man could probably kill two people with a single punch! Cruise, not so much.
That's not to say Cruise can't be intimidating. He can. It's usually his speed and wit that make him a formidable action star, though. If the Reacher script was properly tailored to showcase more of Cruise's trademark zingers and running prowess, it may have fared a lot better.
Cruise has been busy filming non-stop over the past couple of years, which means we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the near future. Let's hope Oblivion, the sci-fi action adventure blockbuster that's up next, does a better job of maximizing Cruise's many talents. After all, he's got the skills. He just needs to pick the right projects.