‘Jack Reacher’ is a Smart, Clever Mystery with Tom Cruise

May 20, 2013 17 Comments
How often does a movie come along that surprises you like none other? Not in the sense of explosions or cool effects rather by the elements it doesn’t have. If you are confused, stick with me. All shall be revealed.

Jack Ryan (2013) Film Review

A bright, beautiful sunny day is the last for five strangers. A sniper’s trained eye steals from them their lives. Long after the screams and gunfire fades, police respond to a crime scene dripping with evidence including a coin from a meter with a perfect fingerprint. Catching all the right breaks, the print matches James Barr, an elite trained Iraq war veteran. Once an arrest is made, all he gives up to police is one name; Jack Reacher. 

Some people don’t wish to be found. Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is one such person. He was has an impeccable military record and a stint with the military police, he is now drifting. Living life in the shadows of everyone else – this was before he saw the news and James name splashed across the stories. Now, he returns to America, presents what he knows about the man and is ready to leave again… until he meets Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike). The daughter of the DA (Richard Jenkins), Helen takes on the task of defending James and she wants to know everything about her client – including
whatever it is Jack knows.  

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This film is probably the best surprise of 2013. It’s an example of smart timing and pacing along with a cast that rivals most of its peers that I didn’t anticipate. My basic  understanding of the movie fells into the car-chase-a-minute, gunfire and a champion who went on the run. Here’s what it actually is. A savvy and intelligent script that forces a hero on the run following bad guys framing him. In short, for the viewer looking for intelligence over brawn, ‘Reacher’ delivers.  
Approximately halfway through this movie, I knew I’d underestimated this film’s capable storytelling. Its angle of investigation rather than overwhelming with strategic stunts and “filling” a two hour time slot with gun battles or car chases is clever; and the result is very possibly one of the best suspense movies I’ve seen since I don’t know when. Better still, it doesn’t build off fear of protagonists to be interesting and invest the viewer’s more in the scripting, the pull is to find out what Jack’s next move is and whether or not it will met positive answers. 

Novelist Lee Child is the person behind the genius of Jack Reacher and as a good-guy-with-a-possible-dark-side, I sure do like him. He’s interesting and retains his mysterious status even after he stays behind to help solve the case; we learn things in relation to him, and yet, we don’t learn anything that tells us about him, like what drives him to live the way he does.  

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Tom Cruise doesn’t rank among my favorite actors, but I will say that over the years I have developed a liking for his characters (Knight & Day, Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol); and the practiced ease he has to play this stereotype. The real fun is seeing Rosamund Pike (Wives & Daughters) in something again and in a role so vastly differing from that of the proper Lady Harriet. She and Cruise have some memorable moments which (fortunately!) is a relationship that doesn’t fall into the same-old, same-old trap. If a viewer wants to pick apart the film, sure there are flaws and clichés. That said the movie is largely all about being “old school.” Its opening is brilliant because it teases us and breaks our heart; there aren’t a lot of empty sections of music nor is there much of a score, yet the film never lags. 

When least we expect it, profound moments of truth pop up, along with a man who believes in patriotism, and to bring justice when someone wrongs a human being. Jack’s mentality of justice is, in some cases true, which makes this film a really good study in right vs wrong.

‘Jack Reacher’ is a Smart, Clever Mystery with Tom Cruise. A review of the 2013 film adaptation with #TomCruise. #Movies #JackReacher Click To Tweet

Rating: 4 out of 5.
‘Jack Reacher’ is a Smart, Clever Mystery with Tom Cruise. A review of the 2013 film adaptation with Tom Cruise. Text © Rissi JC

CONTENT | there is a gun battle in the final moments that results in multiple casualties – including two “close range kills.” [Nothing is terribly graphic.] Prior to that, Jack assaults three bad guys in close quarters after they’ve pummeled him over the head with a baseball bat. The opening pans multiple bodies lying prone in blood; an assassin snaps the neck of a woman by a hard slap [and suffocates her]. Sexual assault is discussed. There’s one use of the F-word and the rare minor profanity like sh*t, a**, etc. The film is PG13.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Katy May 20, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Really nice review of Jack Reacher! It's a good action flick; I love how old school it is and it doesn't pull action scenes out of a hat. Every combat scene is really well choreographed. :)

    • Rissi May 20, 2013 at 7:21 PM

      Totally agree, Katy – it definitely has an "old school" element and that's actually VERY refreshing. Much as I love those high-octane, action movies, this one was far more focused and it worked very well. This will certainly be one I'll own.

      Thank you for reading!

  • Kellie May 20, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    I'll have to watch this one sometime! Tom Cruise isn't my favorite by any stretch either, but I do enjoy Rosamund Pike!

    • Rissi May 20, 2013 at 7:24 PM

      Yeah, me either, Kellie. For some reason Tom Cruise just isn't the kind of actor I *want* to constantly follow. That being said, I like every movie I've see him in plus this this is actually one of his BEST "suspense" roles. And, Rosamund Pike? She was also a great character – we were watching it and my mother goes, "who is that!?" It's always fun to see British stars on the American cinema. :)

  • Ella May 20, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Oh gosh….I LOVED this movie when I saw it. I know, it's hard to say you love a movie such as this. But believe it or not, Tom Cruise managed to NOT ruin it for me.

    One thing though–it takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I know this because I recognized all of the landmarks (like the bridges and the three rivers and stuff like that) I had also walked where the initial shootings that spark the movie took place…….so yeah, deja vu there ;-)

    • Rissi May 20, 2013 at 7:30 PM

      Me, too, Ella! It was just that good; it impressed me in ways I never expected of it – definitely underestimated 'Jack Reacher.' Plus, yeah, Tom Cruise was fine in the role. (Plan on buying this one!)

      Ha! Gosh, thanks for pointing out my geographical error. Heavens, I swear that each time I am unsure of something I make a mental note to check and then… well, I forget. *sigh* Guess that's what I get for doing things in a rush. It's neat when a movie takes place somewhere you are familiar with – it certainly lends to the authenticity of it!

      Glad you dropped by, Ella – as always, you were missed. :)

  • Carissa May 20, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    I might give it a whirl someday, but I'm sort of biased against it just by my workplace. I work with library employees and most of them have read the books and they are positively adamant that Jack Reacher is not Tom Cruise. I wouldn't have an opinion either way since I've never read the books, but I get the fuss that he's not a match for the book Reacher. Still, action flicks are my thing so I might track down a copy this summer! Thanks for the review!

    • Rissi May 21, 2013 at 6:32 PM

      If you like action flicks, you for sure should, Carissa! It was really fun and took some turns I'd never have expected. (In terms of the film, choreography, etc.) Like you, I never read the books so have no opinion on whether or not Tom is "right" for the role – just generally speaking, I am not all that fond of him, but then, everyone has a different take on things like this. :)

      Either way… I SO hope you enjoy it, Carissa – thanks for dropping by! :)

  • Gwendolyn Gage May 21, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    This was a good movie! I was totally surprised by who was involved with the bad guys in the end. Well done suspense movie. :-)

    • Rissi May 21, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      That it was, Gwendolyn! And you know, I excepted something totally different from it. Glad it took us by surprise – that's what really great stories do. :)

  • Lizzie May 23, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    I'm not crazy about Tom Cruise either, but I did enjoy "Knight & Day" and "Ghost Protocol" so I'm really interested to see "Jack Reacher" now! It sounds intriguing.

    • Rissi May 24, 2013 at 2:36 AM

      As did I, Lizzie – Knight & Day was crazy fun and 'Ghost Protocol' way better than I gave it credit for. With Jack Reacher, again I underestimated one of Tom Cruise's films. Maybe now I'll have learned my lesson. :)


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