Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Jack Reacher - movie review

Jack Reacher is the film version of Lee Child's best-seller One Shot. There's been a lot of debate about whether Tom Cruise is appropriately cast as the much taller Reacher, but for me, this is not a key issue. What really matters is whether Cruise captures the essence of the character. I'd say that he's not perfect, but pretty good, and certainly good enough. And the decision to cast Robert Duvall and the menacing Werner Herzog in smaller but important roles was quite inspired - and I bet it was a real thrill for Lee Child to see these two appearing in the first film of his work.

The story begins with a sniper firing six times and killing five people. The overwhelmingly likely suspect is rounded up and soon reduced to a coma. His lawyer, Rosamund Pike (whose professional dress code is rather different from that of all the other female lawyers I know) is thrown into conflict with the D.A., who just happens to be her dad. The suspect, for mysterious reasons, scrawls a message, "Get Jack Reacher". And as if by magic, Reacher appears.

I was baffled by the scene in which Pike questions Cruise and tells him that the conversation is legally privileged. Given that he is not her client, this can only be right if American law is significantly different from English law. Well, I can only presume that it is, but this did jar with me. On the whole, however, the film sprints along in the style we associate with Bond and Bourne, and it makes for good light entertainment.

Lee Child takes the craft of the thriller seriously, which helps to explain his massive success. I've read and enjoyed a number of Lee Child books, but not One Shot. One of the others borrowed a famous plot device from Agatha Christie, and the same trick is pulled here. The excellent director, Christopher McQuarrie, does not go into much detail about the motive for the crime, and we don't have much backstory about Herzog's character. This is a real pity - I suppose McQuarrie felt these elements needed to be cut to maintain pace. So overall, not a masterpiece, but good fun. And despite the casting of Cruise, I'm sure the film will make even more people want to read Lee Child's bestsellers. They will, I think, find them even more entertaining than this lively and action-packed movie.


Anonymous said...

If Reacher was employed by an attorney to perform investigations on a case so that he acted in the nature of a private investigator, the conversations between Reacher and the attorney related to the case could be privileged from release as covered by the attorney-work product privilege. Whether Reacher could legally conduct investigatory work without a P.I. license is a separate issue.

Janet O'Kane said...

We watched this film last night and were pleasantly surprised. I'm not a fan of Cruise but enjoyed it despite his being totally unconvincing in the part of Reacher. The escape at the end of the car chase, by bus, was inspired. No doubt there's a follow-up planned, and I'll happily watch it.

Martin Edwards said...

Anon, thank you for that clarification. Seems unlikely, doesn't it?

Martin Edwards said...

Me too, Janet