Alasdair Stuart writes for Bleeding Cool
I once posited a theory that every disgraced/disavowed spook Tom Cruise has played or, indeed, ever will play, is the same man. Ethan Hunt, Vincent from Collateral and Roy Miller from Knight and Day are all the same man either at different points in his life or they’re clones of the same man. After all, they’re all fiercely competent men of violence, albeit with slightly different levels of morality in place.
Who couldn’t imagine a disgraced Ethan, ten years or more down the line, with his hair grey and his suit immaculate, killing people in Michael Mann’s sodium light-slick LA? I certainly can.
Whether or not Jack Reacher is the fourth corner of Cruise’s square of badassery remains to be seen. His casting wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms, especially given the fact Reacher is continually described as huge whilst Cruise is continually… yes. However, the second trailer’s now out and, honestly, I’m starting to find myself won over.
1.Call me Jack. Call me Reacher
Establishing his ghost status and then having him walk in at the top of the trailer does two things very well; firstly it confirms that Reacher’s outside the usual system and more than a little scary as a result and secondly, it emphasises how incredibly serious the situation is without having to have someone say it out loud. It’s also a nice, ornery cuss of a joke, along the lines of the old ‘Call me Snake.’ ‘Snake-‘ ‘Call me Plissken’ gag. Reacher isn’t nice, this is just the start of the film showing us how.
2.One Riot, One Ranger, One Line At A Time
I really hope this is carried through the movie, because it’s a fascinating little character tic. Listen to how Reacher speaks, every single word conveys information, serves a purpose. There’s no small talk, no chat, just straight ahead, eyes locked communication. It’s a surprising choice, and one which works particularly well coming from as spectacular a talker as Cruise. This man has business to attend to. He doesn’t need to waste words.
3.’Every suspect was a trained killer.’
I’m always pleased to see David Oyelowo, from his first appearances in Spooks through to his under-used turn in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I’m particularly interested in how he’s played here, as the trailer seems to be casting him as Tony from 24 to Cruise’s Jack Bauer. Look at how they’re shot, the transition between them and the location emphasizing that these two men have very similar jobs but are not the same. Look at the face-off at the end of the trailer too; he’s the only one who can almost keep pace with Reacher.
I’m a sucker for these adversary/ally characters and I hope the script gives Oyelowo something to get his teeth into, he’s more than worthy of it.
4. On Case and Off Book?
It’s a tiny little shot but look at that head on of Cruise and the always top Rosamund Pike in her car. The back is stacked full of banker’s boxes and case files. I know lawyers drown in paperwork (My girlfriend’s a law student and she carries tens of pounds of printed matter up and down the Nottingham hills every day) but this looks like something else. It looks like Pike’s character is the only one to stick with the case and, by extension, the only one Reacher sticks with.
5. Bring On The Wildly Eccentric Selection Of Bad Guys
Okay, Jai Courtney I totally understand because his star is very much on the rise, he does good work and next year he gets to blow up Russia with his film dad in Die Hard 5. But…Werner Herzog? Really?! Then again, looking at the recent voice work he’s done, it looks like the man who directed Cave of Forgotten Dreams and, in doing so, came up with one of the first genuinely innovative, educational uses for 3D, is prepared to cut loose a little these days. Good for him, more power to his eminently threatening Teutonic elbow.
6. Graduate of the Bryan Mills School Of Phone Negotiation
Reacher hangs Rosamund Pike out to dry! Because he’s intense! And not a hero! Except he actually doesn’t and rings back, promising to murder John McClane Jr. Whilst we all stop for a moment and let that particular demented pop culture throwdown play out behind our eyes, it’s worth noting this is the only moment in the trailer that falls a little flat for me. It plays, rightly or wrongly, exactly like a ‘Hey Kids! You liked Taken? So did we!’ nod and that cheapens the scene and unnecessarily lightens the mood. It’s nothing terrible, just a clunky line in a trailer that plays every other note right.
7. Baseball Bats and Baths
McQuarrie loves his punch ups, and there are a couple of absolute belters in here. That baseball bat swing lands with bad intentions and I especially like the variation on ground fighting that Reacher’s using at one point. Not sure fighting from a bath would be permitted at Aikido, but hey, I can but ask. Likewise, what appears to be his climactic fight with Jai Courtney looks cheerily bloody-nosed. I noticed at least one dislocation and what may be a straight up kerb stomp in there. I know fight dorking like this is one of the pinnacles of nerdery but Reacher’s hand-to-hand style is a vital part of the character and something which Cruise needed to embrace. Here, he certainly appears to be doing just that.
8. Gearing Up As Time Slows Down
I can’t wait to see the face off between Reacher and Oyelowo’s character in full as there’s a couple of fascinating beats to even what we’re seeing here. The first is the moment of communication between the pair of them, which seems to hint that Reacher’s in the frame for something and knows it. The second is that lovely moment where he reaches for the gear stick and just… stops. This man is a relentless violence machine and he’s cocked, loaded and ready. As Gary Oldman says in Leon; ‘I like these calm little moments before the storm’
9. Car Fu. Or Possibly Carkido
There’s been a lot of talk about the car chase already and this seems to imply there are a couple of fun, unusual beats in it. Getting out of the car and heading for the crowd is a nice touch but the crowd quietly closing around him is what sells this. The scene could play cheesy but instead it plays as a smart man fighting smart, and a neighborhood that probably isn’t overly fond of the police recognizing that. Plus the shrug to the baseball cap donor as the bus pulls up is genuinely sweet.
10.It’s Not Ving Rhames. But I Did Have To Check
Just for a second, a glorious, glorious second I thought the baseball cap donor was Ving Rhames and that as a result, the ‘Every Cruise Spy Is The Same Man’ theory would have been slyly sort of confirmed by the production staff. After all, what’s funnier; a random passerby lending Jack Reacher a baseball cap or Luther Stickle silently helping his old partner out? It would be a nice little nod to the past along the same lines as Dirk Benedict looking at the Cylon in The A-Team credits, it would be smart, it would be funny, it would be great and it-
However, it’s still a nice moment.
Jack Reacher opens in the UK on the 26th of December and stars Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo and Werner Herzog. And it really is him. I checked that too.