Homaging genre master Don Siegel, talented screenwriter-cum-director Christopher McQuarrie sculpts a visceral, winding fusion of narrative and viscera with Jack Reacher, the much-anticipated filmization of the popular series of detective novels. Despite fans' initial misgivings with the casting of charismatic and divisive Hollywood uber-star Tom Cruise in the titular role, most have caved in to the gifted actor's conviction, ala the Vampire Lestat.
Opening with an immersive bang via a tour de force sniper sequence, the director does not take long in revealing his gift not only as a clever script skill master, but also as a visual stylist adept at getting the job done. Despite the usual cliches both aurally and literally, McQuarrie does a more than creditable job of delivering the goods, which only goes to complement Cruise's tact and drive with one of his best star turns in years, especially after the mess that was his last debacle, the turgid Rock of Ages (despite his scene stealing turns which was that flick's one saving grace, thank God).
Several action sequences are tour de forces of sound and editing. Technically, the picture is a master stroke, a studio powerhouse the type of which we wait all year for. McQuarrie glided into Studio City with the underrated director Bryan Singer. Their first three forays into narrative fimmaking in the 90s were all excellent, with each work getting more and more "studio slick", and consequently, better. The low-budget Public Access, a sly psychological media thriller, the mid-budgeted but enormously profitable and now neo-classic labrynthine action-thriller The Usual Suspects (which brought McQuarrie his much deserved Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay of the year in 1995), and the creepy brilliance of their Stephen King adaptation Apt Pupil, confirmed the commercial and, for a few, artistic, status of the duo.
Whilst Singer went his way to helm the first two ( and best) entertaining, subtextual X-Men flicks, followed by his excellent, misunderstood Superman Returns, found McQuarrie's artistic brother delving into pop culture comic book mythology. McQuarrie, meanwhile, helmed his excellent film debut, the kinetic action potboiler The Way of the Gun, which was initially a flop, though it has become a cult film in the intervening fifteen years since its release. In the meantime, the fiery scribe found work where he could, triumphantly reuniting with Singer on the very well made and financially bountiful Nazi pulp Valkyrie starring Cruise.
Working once more with Cruise, on only his second feature as a director, McQuarrie has proven himself as adept at crafting genre pictures as an auteur, as much as being a screenwriter. Fun, smashing, disturbing, and entrenchant, Jack Reacher is the sort of popcorn flick we need more of. Here's hoping that its not another decade before Christopher McQuarrie picks up the camera again.