First ‘Jack Reacher’ Reviews: Great Villain and Action; Mixed Feelings About Cruise

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 2:03 pm,

jack reacher trailer First Jack Reacher Reviews: Great Villain and Action; Mixed Feelings About Cruise

Tom Cruise’s made headlines again this week (in a good way, mind you), with the release of the trailer for his sci-fi thriller Oblivion (watch it here). However, he will be returning to theaters as soon as next week, when the film Jack Reacher – based on Lee Child’s popular novel One Shot – opens.

Reacher is the potential first installment in a new franchise for Cruise; moreover, it brings Oscar-winning writer Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, The Wolverine) back into the director’s chair for the first time since his debut on The Way of the Gun 12 years ago – and stands to offer a better idea as to whether or not McQuarrie directing Mission: Impossible 5 is a good idea. So, there’s a fair amount of reason to be interested in seeing how this film pans out.

Reviews are beginning to trickle in, but only a handful are from major sites and ‘top critics’ (at the time of writing). Hence, we’ve rounded up informative excerpts from their critiques, to offer a good approximation of the impression Jack Reacher has managed… so far.


The Hollywood Reporter

The central character, an Army vet and military policeman who knows all there is to know about weapons and hand-to-hand combat, possesses the same appeal as classic Western heroes — he’s a loner, self-sufficient, a man of few words who comes and goes without explanation — mixed with a touch of Philip Marlowe’s tough determination to peel back layers of deception and official cant to arrive at a satisfying form of justice. He also is hard as nails physically, as he proves in fight after fight.

In short, he’s a great male fantasy figure. Happily, Cruise plays him with no fuss in a direct, pared-down way with little sense of amped-up intensity or vanity; he can even take a joke at his own expense, as when he’s stripped to the waist in a motel room, andRosamund Pike says, “Could you put your shirt on, please?”

… The actual unraveling of the plot might contain limited surprises, but again, McQuarrie provides satisfactions with the surprise casting of director Werner Herzog as a creepy bad guy, introducing Robert Duvall as a late-appearing key character and setting his action climax at night in a visually arresting quarry that carries the connotations of both a wartime battlefield and an ancient combat arena. The writer-director, whose behind-the-camera skills have jumped considerably since his debut on The Way of the Gun a dozen years ago, delivers the narrative and the visuals with clarity, dispatch and style, aided greatly by Caleb Deschanel’s bracingly sharp cinematography, Jim Bissell’s nuanced production design and on-the-mark editing by Kevin Stitt that never calls attention to itself and helps 130 minutes go by in what feels like less than two hours.

jack reacher tom cruise1 First Jack Reacher Reviews: Great Villain and Action; Mixed Feelings About Cruise

Tom Cruise in ‘Jack Reacher’


Reacher is a brawny action figure whose exploits would have been a good fit for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone back in the day, but feel less fun when delegated to a leading man like Tom Cruise. The star is too charismatic to play someone so cold-blooded, and his fans likely won’t appreciate the stretch.

Best case, a role like Reacher would give Cruise another chance to tap into his single-minded “Collateral” killer, but as written, he comes across as more of a weary boy scout, snuffing much of the energy that makes him so appealing. Whereas the hyperkinetic actor looks best on the run, Reacher is a slow-moving, six-and-a-half-foot enforcer — the kind of guy Cruise should be outwitting, not playing… The only pleasure this man takes is in punishing bad guys, and behind this particular scheme lurks a wonderfully evil Werner Herzog, whose rare acting role more than justifies the price of admission for fans of the heavily accented director.

That’s hardly the demo Paramount is aiming for, however. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie’s challenge ultimately centers on finding ways to distinguish his mostly derivative script, based on the kind of guilty-pleasure read one buys at the airport and leaves on the seat. The setup may be clunky and the character a cliche, but the film looks terrific (courtesy of d.p. Caleb Deschanel), and somewhat redeems its silliness through action, featuring several satisfying hand-to-hand altercations, a tense car chase and a well-staged climactic shootout in a gravel quarry.


Total Film

Still, enrolling Herzog as the villain is inspired thinking on McQuarrie’s part; that unmistakable Teutonic brogue that’s graced so many of his documentaries elicits multiple shivers when it’s welded to the character of The Zec. A chilling, ruthless creation, with not an ounce of pity in his bones, Herzog delivers his lines with absolute cold-hearted malice. But the trouble is, having crafted one of the most potentially memorable screen villains in recent Hollywood history, McQuarrie’s adaptation never quite gets to grips with Herzog, who almost lurks too far in the film’s background.

… As for Cruise, he may be shorter than the 6ft 5in Reacher of Child’s books – a topic that vexed some fans – but that doesn’t deter from one of his most intense, determined performances in recent memory. From buzzing around town in a red Chevy muscle car to beating up a squadron of guys in a bar brawl, it’s Cruise at his most rough-hewn – even if he does find time for a muted smile when a bus passenger lends him a baseball cap to evade police attention. Prioritising intrigue over body count, McQuarrie keeps the action clean and clinical, even if that troubled finale feels like a Call Of Duty free-for-all.

tom cruise jack reacher trailer First Jack Reacher Reviews: Great Villain and Action; Mixed Feelings About Cruise

So, in summation:

  • Werner Herzog makes for a terrific villain.
  • McQuarrie delivers in terms of direction and staging action/set pieces.
  • Cruise doesn’t hold back and serves up a worthy performance… but for some people (including, hardcore fans of the Reacher character), he’s simply going to feel miscast.

Bear in mind, these are but a few reviews for Jack Reacher; hence, the consensus among the great critic community – to mention nothing of average moviegoers – could be strikingly different; though, past experience tells us that’s not necessarily always the case (see: the mixed first reviews for Prometheus this summer). If nothing else, these give us reason to be more excited about McQuarrie taking on Mission: Impossible 5.


Look for Screen Rant‘s official Jack Reacher review when the film opens in theaters on December 21st.

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  1. I know absolutely nothing about the jack reacher character, so hopefully i wont feel that tom cruise is wrong for the part and just enjoy the movie for what it is.

    • yea draagyn i think if you are not familiar with the character (Same as me) you don’t really care about Cruise, even if he is miscast according to the fans who know the character. So it don’t matter if he is playing the part.

      • Same here,never heard much of the books,so just hope it turns out well :)

    • It should have kept the original ‘One Shot’ title – the one it has now is pure marketing b.s. – and Reacher should have been played by Jim Caviezel; the right height, the right look, and can be the biggest bad-ass onscreen when the occasion calls for it…

      • Agreed

  2. People always complain about Tom Cruise, probably because of the whole Scientology and Oprah blow out thing. But that doesn’t change the fact that he always delivers and goes all out balls to the wall with the action/stunt work.

    • Agreed

  3. As much of a quack as Tom Cruise comes across to be, he still can put on a hell of a movie. I am looking forward to this one.

    • i second that, i always enjoy a Tom Cruise action flick, he always delivers

  4. What’s the big deal about height?

  5. Jack Reacher is about 6’4, 240-250 lbs..Think Howie Long or Dolph Lugren, or even the old video game guy, Duke Nukem. This is a total miscast.

    • I think Cruise is a great actor but the casting of him to play a role of someone taller and bigger just doesn’t buy me in. Also judging by more reviews/audience comments coming out it seems like we are not alone. Saying the film is okay but the role just doesn’t fit the actor as Jack Reacher is supposed to be an intimidating force but people didn’t get that feeling with Cruise. One person even compared it to Jackie Chan playing James Bond and that some roles just doesn’t fit the actor

    • Well, given the choice of casting a giant for the role who can’t act for crap or a midget who is a decent actor and still has a somewhat menacing aura about him, I sure prefer the latter. I’ve seen Howie Long’s and Dolph Lundgren’s movies. That kind of (non-)acting doesn’t belong in a sleek action thriller like Jack Reacher.

      • I’m not even a huge fan of the books but there is definitely a disconnect between the portrayal of Jack Reacher in the novels and Tom Cruise in the role. It’s like casting Stallone as Gandalf.

        • I have read Lee Childs “Jack Reacher” books. Tom Cruise is not a fit for Reacher, but I cannot think of another actor with his box office clout and acting nous and Reacher’s height and build other than Gerrard Butler.
          I think he’ll be a fine interim Reacher until his age starts to show and someone like Channing Tatum can take over via a reboot.

          • Actually, and I am not kidding here, this is a missed opportunity for Tom Hanks to make himself an action star. Thinking aloud.

          • …except Gerard Butler doesn’t have much box office clout…

        • stallone as gandalf, haha now that is something that has to bee seen to be belived

      • @ lostwinchester

        I wasn’t saying to choose those particular actors, I just mentioned them for their physical size characteristics, not acting ability. I guy like Chris Hemsworth, or his brother Liam might work if the franchise is allowed to continue. Maybe even a Clive Owen type would be a better fit than cruise.

  6. I’m probably alone here, but I’m most excited to see Werner Herzog as the Zec. The guy has never acted before, but he’s created some of the best villains in his directorial films like Aguirre, Nosferatu, Woyzeck, Bad Lieutenant, and Cobra Verde. He’s just a badass behind the camera, and apparently he’s badass in front of it too.

  7. I will probably see the movie, but as someone that has read all the books, this is definitely a miss cast. The premise of EVERY book centers around his shear size and the psychological impact that it has on those around him.

    So while I will see it because I love action movies, I am disappointed that they didn’t stick to the spirit of the character in the casting.

  8. I just can’t imagine Cruise playing Jack Reacher. To anyone who knows the Reacher character – he is 6’5″ and 250 lbs. Does Cruise wear stilts and a body suit? I can’t think of a worse miscasting (or is ot just that Tom has money in the film?) Won’t be seeing this one.

  9. Never read the books or heard of the character, but I guess fans know what they are talking about that know the character. This is the s*** that pisses me off about Hollywood, they always cast the ‘IN” person or the big star, and disreguard the character from the source material.
    Things won’t change in Hollywood, until people start voting with their wallets by not attending these movies.

  10. One more time his ego reaches out ………

  11. I was sold when they showed footage of him in a Chevy SS Chevelle 454… Muscle cars forever, screw the new “tuner” crap…

  12. Junior wins again! I’m hoping Sr. didn’t get last, his bike isn’t bad. Jesse James DESERVES last place. CONGRATS to Gas Monkey and Jr.!!!

    • Oops, wrong article! LMAO!! :-D

  13. When I read the entire description of Jack Reacher, the first thing that came to mind was a taller Daniel Craig.

    So not Tom Cruise, in other words xD

  14. Daniel Craig? Lol!

    This is a project coming to screen produced by TC productions co. Boring books which I doubt anyone else would put their $ on…

    There’s talent involved and good reviews so I’m in

    • No talent Tom’s next bomb, this will be.

  15. To everyone who’s moaning about the height issue: really?! That’s your huge objection to Cruise playing this role? Guess what? Werner Herzog plays the Zec and, in real life, Herzog has all 10 fingers! I know. I’ve met him. Should McQuarrie have cast for someone who didn’t? As for people suggesting Howie Long or Dolph Lundgren should have been cast: get real. Other names I’ve heard bandied about by fans: Ray Stevenson, Clive Owen. When they try to sell this movie abroad, in India, China, Bangladesh, Japan, South Korea, who do you think the audiences there would be more familiar with? Tom Cruise or Ray Stevenson? Yeah, Clive Owen’s a good actor, but what was the last hit he was in? “The Intruders,” “The Boys Are Back,” “Duplicity?” I get the feeling much of the dumb reaction people have to Cruise playing Reacher has little to do with the Lee Child character and more to do with his Oprah couch-jumping, Scientology or the recent divorce. As a Jack Reacher fan, I was skeptical when I heard Cruise was playing Reacher. But I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see this movie. On the other hand, you guys still complaining about Cruise playing this role, why don’t you fill more forums with calls for Reacher to be played by Jeff Speakman, Scott Speedman or, better yet, the master thespian himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme.

  16. Cousin Tom Cruise Jack Reacher Cousin Jason Cruise Cousin David Boreanaz Angel Bones Jamie Bergerman Familey

  17. I loved this movie. I red the book but cruise nailed the character

  18. This movie totally sucked. Did they even read the book before they made it? So much was changed it made no sense. Tom Cruise was an awful choice to play Jack Reacher. The worst part was how much they changed the book. I know the movie is only an hour and a half, but they did not do it justice. Lee Child should be pissed!