… He’s A Drifter… With Nothing To Lose.
Recently at work we have a “Leadership Facts” quiz. My fact should have been that I write for the coolest film site in the world. Instead, I went for; “I did an English Literature Degree and didn’t even read a book.” It was a half-truth. I actually read one book. Unfortunately, that was American Psycho. I didn’t want them to think I was a … psyche, so ignored that minute detail.
Anyway. The point is, I don’t do books. Never have. Mrs T and I were talking about Kindles and I just glazed over. Why would anyone want one? Get a portable Bluey player like the cool kids.
Bare with me, this is going somewhere.
I don’t do books.
So, when leaving Jack Reacher, imagine my surprise that I was tempted, (genuinely), to get stuck into the Reacher books. If there was a compliment pre-film I didn’t think I’d be paying, it was that. I don’t do books.
So the question is… did I want to read the book because the film was pap – or did I want to read the book to make Reacher a richer experience? The good news is it’s undoubtedly the latter. What McQuarrie does fantastically well is shoot the film like a book. The links between the two are strong.
I’ve not read it granted, but McQuarrie shoots the film in a way that makes me think I have. One great scene sees Cruise (excellent), looking at a crime scene. We see short, sharp scenes. The editing is great, and its clear its Reacher’s take on what happened. No voice over is needed. Its McQuarrie treating us like adults. To then go back and use similar (the same?) shots later on is even better. It smacks of confident film making, and the film nails McQuarrie as one of Hollywood’s great talents for me.
He could easily just sit there and dine off The Usual Suspects, but instead, he’s got back in the saddle. Way Of The Gun is one of the best, (and most underrated) films of the last twenty years. Seek it out – and revel in how tight McQuarrie shoots his films. The dialogue is so pithy and sharp. Here, it’s the same. The film is maybe ten minutes too long, but McQuarrie wastes no time at all. We’re thrown straight in with a vicious sniper scene. As a fan of the book, you’ll be sat there looking for bits of detail. Who runs? Who stands still? It’s the beauty of not having read the book for me, though. Seeing it all a second time will give me that sensation, anyway. What McQuarrie achieves though is a film that feels like turning a page of a book… tension, and then… oh, I didn’t see that coming.
Gushing, for sure. I genuinely thought the film was excellent. So much so, that I’m a bit befuddled as to where it fits in my top ten of the year. So far as smart, sassy thrillers go, its out on its own. It reminded me most of The Lincoln Lawyer. (Stay with me). Both made me want to read up on them – and both had magnetic leading men. Cruise is excellent. The amount of people that have been worried about him not being 6’ 8” is amazing. I get that’s how he’s described as in the book, but… well, its totally irrelevant. The key characteristics of the guy, (that he’s smart, violent and ruthless), are conveyed perfectly. One scene in a bar, leading to a fantastic brawl, sees Cruise shot from below the waist. Pandering arguably to those that are height obsessed. I’d challenge anyone by then to care about how tall he is. Especially as within a half hour he’ll be taking part in a classic car chase.
I saw an interview with Cruise recently where he said he loved making Reacher. Loved the character – but more importantly, loved making a car scene the way he’d always wanted too.
Cruise has been around the block, and that shines through. His experience of Hollywood has made him a fountain of knowledge. If you think of whom he’s worked with. Wow. All of the greats. Some more than once. Get a Tarantino film in there and he’d complete the set.
What he demonstrates here though is knowledge of what makes a great film, (as a producer); that I think will translate into a great Director. You can see him now. He’d make a great western. He seems to be from the Costner/Affleck School of watching and learning. To see it all translated into such a tight package, (easy), is a joy.
I loved the dark humour. Was surprised by the stinging violence for a 12A. And loved Rosamund Pike. Full stop. And don’t get me started on Werner Herzog. That’s a genius stroke from the casting couch. Another Cruise call, I’d imagine.
Jack Reacher is going to prove a lot of people wrong. I’m not one of them. Cruise and Duvall strike again. McQuarrie and Cruise are a great team. Valkyrie. This. It all bodes very well for All You Need Is Kill. And more importantly…. MI:5.