In my mind - Tom Cruise will always be the best Bond actor that never was. No matter how long he's been around or how much Hollywood power he commands - the man will NEVER mutter the immortal words of Flemming's now aged spy - so if you cant join 'em, beat 'em! which is what he seems to have tried in the past with done with his characters Ethan Hunt (M.I movies) & Roy Miller (Knight & Day) and I was almost sure that this movie would be yet another attempt at topple bond at its best, Cruise even brings ex-bond girl Rosamund Pike in this latest offering but to my absolute delight - Jack Reacher is something altogether a little different.
Yes, its got Cruise as the (ex) M.P investigator (Military Police) which opens doors for some quite expertly played out fight sequences and yes, its got a few of the chuckles that Bond commands and the M.I movies lack but as an investigator - this one is a lot more script / plot based rather than an all out 'get the bad guy' in an apocalyptic mass of explosions and O.T.T stunts.
The movie opens with the tragic reality of a sniper shooting in America - five seemingly unassociated victims picked off by a river bank and for our benefit, we get to see the shooter from the off. This is quickly followed by easily obtained prints, pointing the finger to a suspect who the audience will quickly identify as not being the guilty party and Reacher is called in (by the suspect) to try and prove his innocence.
With an apparent open and shut case against him - its Reacher's job while working with a lawyer (Pike) who is also the daughter of the prosecuting D.A to seek the truth against a suspect who is ready to be lynched by the entire American public. Sound interested? Well - you should be.
Even at its 2hr duration this movie is as fast paced as anything you would have seen Cruise in of recent times and although the stunts, explosions and glorious locations are not as apparent as Ghost Protocol the plot, story and character recognition of Reacher as an ex-army vet - almost reclusive from the known world whilst able to show the ability to pop up, solve a case and disappear whilst leaving a trail of slight destruction, sexual tension and unanswered questions in his wake was almost as pleasing to watch as the breathtaking abseil from the Burj Khalifa (Dubai) in his last outing. (skipping Rock of Ages, obviously.)
As for the supporting cast, Brits Rosamund Pike (Bond / Die Another Day) & David Oyelowo (Spooks / Planet of the Apes) both show off quite impressive American accents as the Lawyer and Cop assigned to both protect and take down the suspect in custody. A few more familiar faces pop up too with Richard Jenkins (Stepbrothers / Eat Pray Love) & Robert Duvall (no C.V needed!) both turning in stellar performances.
What you get with this movie is a real crime thriller. A process of a movie where you are always one step ahead of the characters based on the inside track revealed early on and watching Reacher and Rachel piece it together bit by bit is a pleasure to behold. Mix that with a bit of humour, some impressive fight scenes & even a few twists and turns thrown in alongside the harsh reality of a horrific initial event that's as present in American history today as its ever been and in my mind - you've got one hell of a captivating movie.
With M.I 5 now announced for 2015 as well as a few more movies inbetween including the impressive looking Oblivion its yet again proof that at the tender age of 50, Mr Thomas Cruise Mapother IV (?) is still able to cut it with the big boys at the top of Hollywood's A-list and shows no sighs of slowing down - at least anytime soon!