I really enjoy Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, and was surprised to discover my wife likes them too. The books are inventive and surprising, and Reacher is just my kind of guy -- tough, loyal, and a thinker.
So when I discovered Tom Cruise was going to play him in the movies (Cruise being nearly a foot shorter than Reacher's 6'5"), I wasn't too keen on seeing the film.
However, I took two of my sons and went shortly after New Year's. We first tried to go on New Year's (big mistake) and the movie was sold out, so we hung out at Best Buy for a bit and ate at What-a-Burger. I'm not a dad to let a moment with his kids go wasted.
When we did see the film, I had a really good time. It was Reacher, yet it wasn't. Cruise just didn't have the physical prowess I expected from Reacher, but the actor brought a tremendous amount of intensity. He had the right kind of look, the quiet reserve of Reacher, the cutting-edge quips and quotes delivered with deadpan accuracy. I think one of the things in a Reacher book that really sets the tone is the villain, and there were a few nice ones in this one.
Overall, the movie felt like two hours and twenty minutes. The pacing was solid and engaging, but you had time to think. A lot of times an action film will just blow you through it (any of the Transformers movies comes to mind, but I couldn't tell you exactly what was going on at any one time), but Jack Reacher pulls you along at a steady pace. I enjoyed the clinical way Reacher dissects the investigation, how he gets there one step ahead of everyone else. Of course, Reacher has the author and the scriptwriter in his pocket, but the story was laid out well enough that I was right there with Reacher, figuring things out. There is a nice either/or twist at the end that's well done and had me hanging by my fingernails event though I'd figured most everything else out -- which I think you're supposed to do to properly enjoy the film.
My favorite line in the move is (close, I think): I'm going to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot." Can't say how long I've waited for an action hero to say that.
I also watched Expendables 2 earlier this year and had a good time with it. Yeah, I'm pretty easy to please. But it's interesting matching up Jack Reacher as an action film versus Expendables 2. They're really apples and oranges. Sylvester Stallone and his crew chew through scenery and are a hoot to watch, but Cruise manages to bring you into the world of Jack Reacher and make the whole story more personal.
I hope this is the start of a new franchise for Lee Child and Cruise because I'd definitely like to see another Jack Reacher movie.