When an email about the new Rack Reacher movie went around the office one colleague responded simply with this screenshot.
This quick-witted fellow has a point and he wasn’t the first to make it. Physically Tom Cruise is as far from Reacher as you can really get, and for a series that plays so heavily on the almost abnormal height and bulk of its hero, the choice of Tom Cruise – felt some, including me – was cheeky to the extreme even given his acting chops.
I was crushingly disappointed by the first movie. It wasn’t Cruise’s fault, even. Despite his physically not fitting the bill I believe he’s a good enough actor to make up for it with charisma and subtlety. But there was nothing subtle or charismatic about the first film, even remaining open-minded about film adaptations of books in general.
It was lacklustre and completely failed to communicate to a new audience just why Jack Reacher is a juggernaut in crime fiction, an iconic and truly original hero. It also failed to capitalise on the many opportunities for innovative storytelling that the books invite – his quirky inner dialogue, internal clock, travelling kit, deductive reasoning in fight scenes and in detection. All these could have been portrayed with a little originality – think some of the innovations used in the recent Sherlock Holmes series – but instead we got a generic action flick no different from any other.
This time, my expectations were low, but despite this die-hard Lee Child fan guarding her emotions jealously this time round, I still hoped. And I got excited.
So when I turned to the Ministry on my way out and exclaimed, “I didn’t hate it!” you will appreciate how big that was. It was a definite improvement on the first. Having said that, there’s still some way to go before this franchise would become what I wish it would be.
The makers had a bit of a stab this time round at some creative representation of Reacher’s thought processes, though it was a bit inconsistent and half-heartedly done with only a couple of examples.
The ‘maybe daughter’ was well cast, with Danika Yarosh playing Samantha Dayton, as was Cobie Saunders (Robin from How I met Your Mother) as Major Susan Turner.
Some of the liberties taken with the storyline were a bit eye-opening, though to be expected. The fight scenes were too filled with loud overdone THWACK sound effects and back-and-forth to be adequate Reacher fights in which Reacher just really is supposed to annihilate each opponent and remain largely unchallenged. I was a disappointed by the airplane toilet fight scene which should have been a damn good one, and people survived an astonishing number of what should have been fatal head injuries. In other words, it was a completely standard action movie, when it could have been so much more.
But I was happy overall with the improvement on the first – at least there was a little more well-placed humour in this – and I was thankful they didn’t waste time on sex scenes. Plus, Lee Child does a quick cameo as a policeman! So I settled down to watch the second half quite happily. I look forward to the third. Things can only get better. Right?