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360 Degrees of Reacher


Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher earned a variety of coverage on KUSP since its open. But true to public radio form, the noteworthy series of mystery novels the film was based on have been covered extensively. NPR has interviews with author Lee Child about the series and the Reacher character dating back to 2004.

Lee Child, author of the mystery novels that introduced the Jack Reacher character. Photo: NPR | Blanche Mackey

Child spoke at Length with KUSP’s Rick Kleffel in his Dcember 23rd episode of KUSP’s literature show The Agony Column.

Once the film entered distribution, NPR film reviewer Bob Mondello spent an entire segment discussing how somewhat-less-tall-than-average Cruise can play the 6-foot-5 Reacher convincingly. Also how Humphrey Bogart managed not to appear shorter than Marlene Dietrich in Casablanca.

The film was supposed to open December 21, with parties and a benefit screening at the Lincoln Center. It became one of a few violent films that toned down their openings immediately after the mass-killing in Connecticut.


Here’s the text of the review by KUSP’s Dennis Morton at the top of this post

Before I get started with this review, I feel compelled to make a confession, of sorts.
When I entered the theatre to watch Jack Reacher for the first time, I knew there would be an abundance of murder and mayhem writ large on the big screen. I knew I’d be witnessing and absorbing a portrait of behavior I find morally repugnant. I knew that
Tom Cruise, the film’s star, was not on my list of favorite humans. And yet I swallowed
my compunctions and headed in for a few hours of what I guessed might be highly
questionable entertainment. Had I spent more time with my reservations, I’d probably
have told myself that life is full of contradictions, that we have to learn how to live with
them, and then marched into the theatre.

And so, now, after having watched Jack Reacher three times, I can tell you that I very
much enjoyed this film.

In short, the performances are terrific, including that of Mr. Cruise, who portrays the
eponymous protagonist, Jack Reacher. The female lead is Rosamund Pike. She plays the
part of a conflicted defense attorney, at odds with her dad, who is a go-for-the-jugular
district attorney, played by the estimable Richard Jenkins.

The cast is international. Rosamund Pike is British. So too is David Oyelowo, who
is mesmerizing as the lead cop, a man referred to only as ‘Emerson’ in the film. Jai
Courtney, an Australian, plays an ice-in-the-veins evil fellow named Charlie. And the
great director, Werner Herzog, a German, has a small but chilling role as The Zec, the
baddest bad guy of the lot.

The script is based on a novel by Lee Child. Though I have not read any of Mr.
Child’s books, I understand that Jack Reacher is a recurring figure in them. I’ve also
heard that Tom Cruise, who produced the film, in addition to starring in it, has plans for a
series of Jack Reacher movies. May the succeeding episodes be as well made as this one.
Incidentally, KUSP’s Rick Kleffel recently interviewed Lee Child on The Agony
Column. You can access a podcast of that conversation on the KUSP website.
So – what’s this film about? Well, it’s about an elaborate scheme to further the
ambitions of an international crime cartel. To do so requires the removal, by death, of an
unwitting impediment to the cartel’s nefarious intentions. And the crime must appear to
be the work of someone other than the cartel.

The film opens with a scene of carnage, followed quickly by some ‘cracker jack’
detective work on the part of Officer Emerson. What would seem to be a slam dunk case
is quickly challenged by an idealistic, pro bono defense attorney, played impeccably
by Rosamund Pike. And shortly thereafter, the mysterious Jack Reacher appears,
unannounced. To the surprise of the defense attorney, Reacher arrives to bury the
defendant, not to support him.

I don’t want to tell you more about the surprisingly intricate plot of the film. I will say
that director and script writer, Christopher McQuarrie, has provided us with dialogue that
is frequently witty and sometimes, even moving. He displays a range that one rarely finds
in this kind of action thriller.

Jack Reacher is a surprising film, a gem of the genre, and I recommend it.

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