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‘Jack Reacher’

Is Cruise reaching as Reacher?

by Kaori Shoji

Every time I witness the presence of Tom Cruise in Tokyo, I imagine the possibilities of him moving here as a permanent resident. He loves sushi (apparently a frequent customer at Sukiyabashi Jiro). He knows the streets of Ginza. He’s clearly work addicted. Unlike in the U.S. no one here will ever direct ignoble phrases such as “pint-sized” and “diminutive” at his official height of 1.7 meters, though those who have attended to him in the makeup room whisper it’s actually 1.67 meters.

As for the business about Cruise being a Scientologist, who cares? Tokyoites have an absolute soft spot for “Tomu” — I personally know no fewer than five high school girls who use his photo as their cellphone backgrounds. Shouldn’t he live in a city that knows size doesn’t matter, that it’s all about handling action moves after hitting 50?

Having entertained us for three decades in multiple genres and a variety of cool-guy characters, Tom Cruise has settled into the groove of indispensable action star. It’s so easy to fall off the action grid after 40, let alone 50, but Cruise is as much in control now as the days when he was a full-throttle hottie in “Top Gun.”

For evidence, look no further than his titular role in “Jack Reacher.” There he is, in the standardized action-star garb of tight white tank over cargo pants. He takes on five armed evildoers in a dark alley with his bare hands and comes out tops, and he knows how to charm attractive female lawyers. Reacher’s not as bad-ass as Jason Bourne, nor as twistedly tortured as James Bond, but he can release a string of profanities and retain that church-going demeanor, with hip moves that match those of Justin Bieber. Consider that “Jack Reacher” is based on a series of novels by British thriller author Lee Child and it looks like the start of a beautiful franchise.

Jack Reacher (Outlaw)
Rating
Director Christopher McQuarrie
Run Time 130 minutes
Language English

The caveat in this package is that Reacher as drawn in Child’s book series stands at a towering 1.95 meters and ramming fists into him is like taking on an oak tree. But Cruise never lets that deter him, as he spends most of his screen time assuring the audience that he can deal with Reacher’s height thing and his craggy toughness thing.

To Cruise’s credit, he leaves no stone unturned in making his Reacher as convincing as humanly possible. One of the promotional points of the movie is that Cruise did all his own car stunts, trained with a martial-arts specialist and invested the whole of his abs-and-pecs-in-perfect-place bod into the venture.

Did the shunning of CGI pay off? Probably so, as Cruise’s Reacher walks a fine line between dead-serious macho and plain male-chauvinist ridiculous. “I’m just a guy who wants to be left alone,” is just one of the eye-glazers that come off his lips. Get ready to forgive that offense (and many others like it) because, let’s face it — Cruise has built his career on eye-glazers and has emerged victorious. We’d better get with it.

So who is this Jack Reacher? He’s an Iraq War vet, so sizzlingly good that he manages to maneuver a gorgeous vintage Chevy Chevelle through a blizzard of bullets and keep it intact. He walks into a Pittsburgh saloon and the men look at him with awe, while any woman under 65 is about to faint with desire.

When a lone gunman goes on a random shooting spree in a downtown park (one of the victims is a nanny cradling a little girl) then disappears, retired army sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is promptly arrested. What should have been an open-and-shut case turns complicated when Barr refuses to talk, then scrawls on a piece of paper: “Get Jack Reacher.” Barr’s lawyer (Rosamund Pike) is called into reach Reacher, and it’s pretty much business as usual from there.

In the U.S., “Jack Reacher” opened a week after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and it generated a little criticism that despite toting gore and violence eerily close to reality, the movie had a PG-13 rating. On the other hand, you can’t really accuse “Jack Reacher” of glorifying murder and mayhem. The only thing glorified here is Tom Cruise — as if the guy needed any more of that.

  • Ryan Gilbert

    If Tom Cruise seems like a giant in Japan, I guess I could understand why they didn’t cast Reacher correctly, as it could have been misconstrued as a new Godzilla movie. Cruise’s screen menace as Reacher is about as intimidating as Teddy Ruxpin.

  • Jack

    I’m on my way to the theater now at high speed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yifat.vered Yifat Vered

    too bad the “real” reacher is about 1.90m if not more. he could eat cruise for breakfast and not feel a thing. really, one of the most disappointing casts ever!