Movie Review: Jack Reacher

Movie: Jack Reacher

An action-packed reminder to think on the value of life every day.

By Mark HadleyThursday 20 Dec 2012MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Tom Cruise returns to the big screen in 'Jack Reacher'.

Rating: M
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: January 3 

Jack Reacher
is a police procedural drama built around a scene that’s becoming all too familiar in American culture: a lone gunman picking off strangers with a high powered firearm. And though it’s an action adventure built on some unreal premises, it also has a key truth at its heart: you can never be sure this won’t be the day you die.


Tom Cruise plays Reacher, a retired military policeman who earns the reputation of a gritty Sherlock Holmes before dropping off the radar. When a former military sniper is arrested for multiple murders he refuses to do anything but write, ‘Get Jack Reacher’. Reacher teams up with the accused’s attorney (Rosamunde Pike) to conduct an unorthodox investigation – read lots of physical persuasion – and manages to connect the killings to some Russian criminals. But the evidence suggests they’re operating under the protection of well-placed city official. Even if Reacher finds the truth, will there be someone who cares about the result?

Jack Reacher is a solid 7/10 when it comes to action films, and that may be enough if all you’re looking for is an alternative to Les Misérables or The Hobbit. Tom Cruise does a good job of reproducing the tough-but-fair Reacher, a character who first came to emerge from the pen of British author Jim Grant and has gone on to become a seventeen-novel publishing sensation. The dialogue fits Reacher’s paperback origins. It’s a little heavy handed and filled with a few too many dramatic pauses for my liking, but the puzzle Jack has to solve has enough twists to keep you interested. The added assistance of Robert Duvall as a supporting actor also doesn’t hurt. 

By far the most interesting element, though, is Jack Reacher’s opening minutes. Watching the world through the scope of a heartless sniper gives real pause for thought. The crystal-clear figures are going about their day-to-day lives – some involved in affairs, others just doing the shopping – without anyone knowing a set of cross-hairs hovers over their heart. Death comes suddenly and without appeal. Whatever wicked, generous or mundane thoughts were going through the victims’ heads prove to be their last. It’s a sobering realisation.

Not many of us start the day with the conscious thought, ‘This one could be my last,’ but it’s a perspective the Bible encourages us to adopt. The same book that says, ‘eat, drink and find satisfaction in your work,’ also says, ‘the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.’ The only certainty about life is that it will come to an end, and rarely in the way we expect. For this reason the Bible also reminds us that, “… everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God.” Without sounding too morbid, it might be worth considering mid-argument or while avoiding a good act what your action would look like if it proved to be your last. My hope is that whether it be a sniper’s bullet (unlikely!) or a coronary (closer to the truth), my final decision will reflect my first one to trust God.

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However the only way I can be sure is to live each day as though it were in fact my last.