In going back to Jack, Tom Cruise doesn’t just show that he’s still got it; he’s still getting better. Filled head-to-toe with charisma, balancing intensity and intellect with humanity and humour, Cruise embodies Reacher even better this second time around. Back-to-back with Cruise is Cobie Smulders, who knocks this role out for the count. A kick-ass character, Reacher’s equal in rank and ability, Smulders brings her A-game and deservedly holds the screen in equal thrall to Cruise.
The bad guys are the weak link in an otherwise strong chain. Stereotyping ex-military personnel as one size fits all contractors with shady motives is a lazy play in need of punching up, and this vanilla villainy undermines the, ostensibly, main plot. Thankfully this is diverted by the rag-tag family story which builds around Cruise, Smulders and Danika Yarosh as a young, resourceful teen under their watch who grows on the audience and characters alike.
Not to criticise the BBFC but Reacher‘s particular form of brawling is brutal enough to question the 12A certification, and the choice of shot often escalates this violence. Blood splatter has not been totally omitted, and certain culminating scenes take Reacher from avenging angel to vengeful god without a blink of hesitation, lingering on the savagery. However, these fight scenes are choreographed expertly and the results are thrilling.
Welcome back, Jack – after two solid films, you’re welcome to come again.
It’s a role Cruise plays perfectly, without veering into cruise-control, seen-it-all-before repetition. By adding in the more full-bodied arc around Reacher’s personal life as a counterweight to the punch first, ask questions later antics, director Edward Zwick and screenwriters Wenk and Herskovitz have found the right Reacher for the big screen.
CAST: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Robert Knepper, Aldis Hodge
DIRECTOR: Edward Zwick
WRITERS: Richard Wenk (screenplay), Edward Zwick (screenplay), Marshall Herskovitz (screenplay), Lee Child (book)
SYNOPSIS: Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.