Jack Reacher

Dec 26, 2012

Cruise controls.

Jack Reacher
Grade: A-
Director: Christopher McQuarrie (The Tourist)
Screenplay: McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), from Lee Child book
Cast: Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible), Rosamund Pike (Wrath of the Titans)
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 min.
by John DeSando

“There's this guy. He's a kind of cop, at least he used to be. He doesn't care about proof, he doesn't care about the law, he only cares about what's right. He knows what I did. You can't protect me. No one can.” James Barr (Joseph Sikora)

That “kind of a cop” is Tom Cruise smartly controlling the titular Jack Reacher as he does almost every other character he has ever played. My son says he is one of the best actors of his generation, and while you may argue about that, you ‘d have to say his acting chops were amply shown in Born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire, and he is certainly one of the best stars of action thrillers in our time. The intelligence he displays along with the discipline of his movement makes him a hero to be applauded.

After the assassination of five pedestrians by a sniper, Jack Reacher, a multitalented ex warrior, emerges to do the heavy detective work deconstructing a gnarled plot that involves a lovely attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosemund Pike), and her DA dad, played by the always cool Richard Jenkins. She has the best line of the film when she asks Reacher/Cruise, “Could you put on your shirt, please?”

In the old-fashioned thriller paradigm, which I favor, nothing is as it seems, and writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has the right repartee to remind us of great  film noir with a touch of screwball comedy.

Consider the brilliance of hiring Robert Duvall to play a crusty gun dealer who figures prominently in the rowdy denouement, and also having the eccentric director Werner Herzog play a very bad guy.  You’ll know what I mean about “brilliance” when you see them steal every one of their scenes.

As predictable as this  plot  is, you are kept interested by the verbal virtuosity and the frenetic pace.  Add to that formula subtle editing (Mark Stitt) and crisp cinematography (Caleb Deschanel) evoking the old black and white noir, and you have the best thriller of the season.

“You think I'm a hero? I am not a hero. And if you're smart, that scares you. Because I have nothing to lose.” Jack Reacher

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at
He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel and Idol Chatter.
Contact him at