I love going to the movies almost as much as I love reading. So when a book I have enjoyed is made into a movie(although I prefer seeing a movie before reading the book if given a choice), there usually is no hesitation in deciding to see it. I had read One Shot which served as the basis for this initial adaptation of Lee Child's novel. It was great. But I wasn't anxious to see Jack Reacher when I first heard that about it because that news was accompanied by the revelation that Tom Cruise was going to play the title character. I have been a reader of the Jack Reacher series from the beginning. The stories are well written and fast paced. They are all great candidates for being made into films. But like many other people, I just couldn't see Tom Cruise playing the physically imposing former military policeman. It had nothing to do with Cruise's acting ability. I had no problem believing him as Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible series. But Reacher's physical size, 6'4" and 225-240 pounds of chiseled muscle, is an indispensable part of the character. I imagined watching the film would be like seeing David Spader take on the role of James Bond.
Another reason for hesitating to see the movie was my first experience with seeing a movie Cruise starred in which was a cinematic adaptation of a great book: The Firm. Of all of the books of John Grisham which have been made into movies, The Firm was by far the least enjoyable to me. I believe a large part of that was the fact that the script deviated more from the story line in the book than any of the others. Also playing into my decision was a similar problem in Hollywood's treatment of Michael Connelly's incredible novel Blood Work and David Baldacci's incredible Absolute Power. After seeing those films, I was amazed at Hollywood's inability to leave a fantastic story alone and decided that I would not rush to see films based on novels I really enjoyed. It just wasn't worth the risk.
After seeing an essay story about the film written in the online magazine for Apple's iPad, Noir, by my favorite author, Connelly, and why Cruise pulled off the role. I decided to give it a shot. After all, the last time I followed Connelly's recommendation, I discovered the wonderful writing of Nelson DeMille due to a blurb on the cover of Plum Island.
One of the things I hate most about reviews is spoilers. Spoilers are wrong whether they are in a review or a movie trailer that reveals too much of the plot. So I will not go into specifics about the story. This I can say. The story was quickly paced and very believable as far as action films go today. There was humor but the script mostly stayed away from one-liners, which was an incredibly pleasant surprise. The suspense was well developed. The acting was strong across the board. Rosamund Pike is as talented as she is beautiful. Robert Duvall delivers a fantastic performance. The setting of Pittsburgh was very good. The cinematography made the city look great. I can't say there weren't some moments when the physical difference that resulted from Cruise playing Reacher didn't cross my mind. But it never was for more than a moment nor did it make me believe that the story was contrived.
If you enjoy the genres of action and/or suspense films, I believe you will find it to be an evening well spent. Hope you have a Happy New Year and that 2013 is the best year of your life so far.