Early JACK REACHER Reviews Praise the Action, Direction and Casting of Werner Herzog as the Villain, Mostly Positive Reactions for Tom Cruise

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Some early reviews for writer/director Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher are now available, with a consensus praising the film’s action sequences and pacing, as well as McQuarrie’s capable direction. Werner Herzog’s rare performance as the villain was also lauded across the board, while Tom Cruise’s role as the titular tough guy hit home with a majority of viewers. Fans of the Lee Child source novels were more critical of Cruise playing the 6’5” enforcer, but appeared to be won over by his on-screen intensity. The film also drew a number of comparisons to classics like Dirty Harry, Bullitt and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Jack Reacher, also starring Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo, opens December 21st. Hit the jump to read some of the early reviews and reactions.

tom-cruise-robert-duvall-jack-reacherLet’s take a look at some of the early domestic reviews of Jack Reacher. Be sure to click on the links in order to read the full reviews. First up, THR, who say:

“Tom Cruise is in fine form as mysterious tough guy Jack Reacher…Cruise might not be the 6-foot-5 rock described in the books, but he makes the title role fit him like a latex glove in a winning turn that could spawn a popular new franchise for the star, if public reaction to Christopher McQuarrie’s film is as strong as its fun quotient warrants.”

The review goes on to address the simple, yet solid plot of Jack Reacher:

“While the plot is not complex — it’s simplicity itself compared to McQuarrie’s labyrinthine classic The Usual Suspects — it nonetheless provides the tasty satisfactions of sturdy mystery thrillers of yore, in which you know things are not what they appear and you’re happy to be led by a capable expert through a maze of obstacles and suspicious characters to a satisfying denouement.”

Since Jack Reacher is a good old-fashioned action movie, THR also comments as such:

“…Cruise puts on an impressive show of quite credible mano a mano skills, which, refreshingly, are not edited in a flurry of cuts designed to obscure either an aging star’s inadequacy or the participation of a stunt double…Another action sequence that delivers the goods and doesn’t cheat is an extended nocturnal car chase through Pittsburgh streets that harks back to the propulsive realism of Bullitt andThe French Connection days; it’s no coincidence that the car Reacher drives is a 1970 Chevy Chevelle.”

jack-reacher-tom-cruise-1We’ll leave the THR review with a note on the film’s pacing and direction by McQuarrie:

“The writer-director, whose behind-the-camera skills have jumped considerably since his debut on The Way of the Gun a dozen years ago, delivers the narrative and the visuals with clarity, dispatch and style, aided greatly by Caleb Deschanel’s bracingly sharp cinematography, Jim Bissell’s nuanced production design and on-the-mark editing by Kevin Stitt that never calls attention to itself and helps 130 minutes go by in what feels like less than two hours.”

Total Film was also on board with THR, giving Jack Reacher four out of five stars and calling the film:

“A superior thriller, with Cruise and McQuarrie slotting together like a bullet in a clip. Like Reacher on the firing range, the aim isn’t always true – but the misses are fractional.”

They also praise Cruise’s performance as an under-sized actor filling the some big shoes:

“As for Cruise, he may be shorter than the 6ft 5in Reacher of Child’s books – a topic that vexed some fans – but that doesn’t deter from one of his most intense, determined performances in recent memory…From buzzing around town in a red Chevy muscle car to beating up a squadron of guys in a bar brawl, it’s Cruise at his most rough-hewn…”

Variety, however, wasn’t quite on board with Cruise as the title character:

“Reacher is a brawny action figure whose exploits would have been a good fit for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone back in the day, but feel less fun when delegated to a leading man like Tom Cruise. The star is too charismatic to play someone so cold-blooded, and his fans likely won’t appreciate the stretch.”

jack-reacher-tom-cruiseThe review goes on to say that Cruise:

“…comes across as more of a weary boy scout, snuffing much of the energy that makes him so appealing. Whereas the hyperkinetic actor looks best on the run, Reacher is a slow-moving, six-and-a-half-foot enforcer — the kind of guy Cruise should be outwitting, not playing.”

Though they do praise Herzog’s work and the action throughout the film:

“…behind this particular scheme lurks a wonderfully evil Werner Herzog, whose rare acting role more than justifies the price of admission for fans of the heavily accented director…The setup may be clunky and the character a cliche, but the film looks terrific (courtesy of d.p. Caleb Deschanel), and somewhat redeems its silliness through action, featuring several satisfying hand-to-hand altercations, a tense car chase and a well-staged climactic shootout…”

The Variety review also points out that the Child books are incredibly violent and gratuitous, characteristics that are hamstrung by the film’s PG-13 rating.

Let’s take a look at some of the reactions to early screenings via Twitter:

Well done sir @tomcruise#jackreacher Laughed more than I thought I would! You definitively keep the action going; kudos to Duvall too!
Amazing conversation with @TomCruise tonight at the #JackReacher premiere, maximum respect for him and a fabulous film!
Had fun representin’ for the boy at the London #JackReacher premiere. Go see it y’all! It’s brilliant! pic.twitter.com/vvrmWusa
#JackReacher is a great film. @TomCruise was brilliant. Surprisingly funny and very violent. Worth a watch if you like that type of thing.
Gary Mancini ‏@Indiana_
@TomCruise#JackReacher was awesome. One of the best action films in years. Highly recommended! Well done to all involved #JackReacherUK

Be sure to check the film out and decide for yourself with Jack Reacher debuts December 21st.
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  • Tyler

    Leave it to Variety to piss all over the parade. Oh well. From what it sounds like, this movie will end up being another top notch Tom Cruise actioner. I’m so excited for next Friday.

  • filmmaniac111

    Yeah as a big fan of the books I was a little let down by the casting, even though I really like Cruise. However, the TV Spots show that he might just get persona right. Not to mention as long as the script and execution are good, this may just be a great film. I went from having no hope to quite a bit of it :D

  • Yu-Sheng Wu

    They had me hooked on “Werner Herzog”, I didn’t even know he was in this! Let’s hope its not like Gary Oldman’s glorified cameo in Lawless.

  • Yu-Sheng Wu

    They had me hooked on \"Werner Herzog\", I didn\’t even know he was in this! Let\’s hope its not like Gary Oldman\’s glorified cameo in Lawless.

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  • Skid McCormick

    My buddy saw this last night in London and said while he loves Cruise as Ethan Hunt; Jack Reacher blows all 4 Mission Impossibles out of the water. Officially on board!

  • Skid McCormick

    PS: Remember the fuss when Cruise was announced as Lestat de Lioncourt? Even Anne Rice had to say he was great in the role after she saw Interview with the Vampire. Tom may be an eccentric off screen, but I do love the guy’s film work and Les Grossman is still his best outing ever.

  • Gui

    Variety dont think Tom Cruise can play a cold-blooded character? That his fans won’t appreciate it? HAVE THEY NOT SEEN COLLATERAL?

  • adim

    In the very least even if you hated Cruise, but you loved good movies, you would have to admit that the guy has been involved in a string of quality stuff. I can’t remember him being a part of anything that resembled a stinker. Sure I wasn’t a fan of Cocktail but I do admit it was a decent flick, and if you aren’t a fan you would have to admit that in the very least his movies are a decent, and that’s more than can be said for a lot of the other actors that have been in showbiz for as long as this guy has.

  • DREDD

    It sounds great, however, I hate it when Hollywood cast actors for the revenue rather than because they would make the perfect character fit. It happens tooo frequently!

    BANE anyone? they coulda just vadered Bane up, and kept the voice dub of Hardy, then had a huge muscle head to fill the role. It woulda made that fight seem a lot less ridiculous.

    • ChanandelerBong

      that idea shows why you’re not in movie business.

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  • LEM

    Is there any point in seeing this movie? you’ve seen Cruise in this movie many times already. He fights, he runs, he probably jumps from an explosion or two and maybe gets a few scratches but gets the job done…whatever job it may be.

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  • heartland

    ““As for Cruise, he may be shorter than the 6ft 5in Reacher of Child’s books – a topic that vexed some fans – but that doesn’t deter from one of his most intense, determined performances in recent memory…From buzzing around town in a red Chevy muscle car to beating up a squadron of guys in a bar brawl, it’s Cruise at his most rough-hewn…” Spare me. MOST book fans have reacted to the miscast w. distaste, and this comment confirms why – the character DOES NOT “buzz around in muscle cars” as written. Variety’s review is most likely the most accurate. This will be a reasonable TC vehicle. Just not a Jack Reacher movie and it’s lost thousands from alienated readers. However, if you can rope in the young male demographic (that spends the most $$$ at movies) guess it is an acceptable loss.

    • Matthew

      It’s always the ones who haven’t seen something who yell the loudest. Why don’t you go see the movie and then say bad things? At least that way people will respect where you’re coming from. Check twitter man…people who have seen the movie love it, and many are the same people who were saying Cruise should have never been cast.

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