“Just remember, you asked for this” *queue five on one fight scene* just one of the brilliantly deadpan ‘zingers’ given by Tom Cruises character Jack Reacher in this fabulously fun take on the Lee Childs novel One Shot.
The story follows a complicated plotline around the shooting of five innocent civilians in broad daylight by an ex-Iraq serving soldier. Reacher has a vested interest in this case so returns to the US to help see that the man responsible is brought to justice, however all is not as it seems…
Whether you are a fan of the book or not, the brilliance of this film is not the fact that Cruise is a mere 5”8 when the literary character is 6”5 (something he had to address quite extensively at the World Premiere) but that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that it doesn’t patronize its audience. The humour in this film is well placed and provides the optimum reaction from the people watching, mixed in well with all the elements that make it a great action movie.
Tom Cruise makes an excellent Jack Reacher. His delivery of the lines are as dry as a desert and this creates maximum effect as the audience pinch themselves throughout asking “is this guy for real?” He fits the bill physically, his height really doesn’t seem an issue on screen and his broody loneliness and dis-engagement with the real world is apparent and clear. There is also the odd feeling of vulnerability for this vigilante which brings out a human side to the character making him far from indestructible, and in some instances, refreshingly out of his depth and control. Rosamund Pike is an interesting choice for Helen Rodin, the DA’s daughter and lawyer who hires Reacher to be her private investigator in this case. Her take on the American accent is somewhat distracting at times, but she provides a good sparring partner for Cruise, with a calm versus the storm factor, and the undertones of a romantic involvement which are danced around but never fully played out.
Robert Duvall however, only features in the second half of the film, but brings in an old school heroism feel to the film, that he is simply magnetic in presence and hilarious in delivery. The moment he appears as gun range owner Cash, he gels instantly with Cruise and you feel taken back to Days of Thunder, you can tell they have great chemistry on screen and have remained friends off. Another surprising casting is Werner Herzog as The Zec. If you were to paint a picture of an action hero nemesis, he would be it, blind in one eye, living in the shadows and thumbless after having to bite it off himself in order to stay alive. He is almost cartoon like in appearance, and the moment he delivers the line “I was born in Siberia…” you know not to take this film too seriously if you hadn’t figured this out before.
The flow of the film, mixes from serious to the absurd. The opening ten minutes rest on a dialogue-less tension-building opener where the crime is committed and the scene is set. It then breaks to something that resembles a cheesy holiday advert as we see from behind the head shots, Cruise waking up with a leggy brunette in his bed, seeing the incident on the TV in his hotel room, going outside to the beaches of Florida, buying second hand clothes, with the till girls gawking at his “god-like” presence, showing his bus driver his ticket and ending up downtown ready to solve the case, it is pure brilliance and fun and only lacking the Shaft signature theme tune to accompany it.
There is also a slap-stick goon scene in the middle of the film which is so ridiculous, its not unlike Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s turn in Home Alone, the way these two “henchmen” were acting, Jack Reacher wasn’t needed as a kid really could have outsmarted these two- you cannot help but laugh out loud at the buffoonery. Finally, the crescendo is an all out action packed car, gun, fist fighting final scene, which is so outlandish in format you really are taken back to the Van Damme, Schwarzenneger films of days gone by, a fitting end to the film.
For all its ridiculousness, I found it hard to fault, it is what it is, nothing too serious and yet it has a stroke of brilliance about it, which makes all its absurdities forgivable. A very watchable movie, fans of the book wont be disappointed, action loving boys will love it and maybe girls will swoon at Tom Cruise in this new action role. I for one loved it.