The Films of Christopher McQuarrie
The Way of the Gun
Jack Reacher (February 20/13)
Based on Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, Jack Reacher follows the title character (Tom Cruise), a mysterious military investigator, as he reluctantly agrees to look into the murder of several civilians by a skilled sharpshooter. There's little doubt that filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie, working from his own screenplay, does a superb job of immediately drawing the viewer into the proceedings, as the movie kicks off with a spellbinding (and dialogue-free) stretch revolving around the aforementioned sharpshooter's attack and the subsequent initial investigation by the authorities. It's a riveting opening that paves the way for a deliberately-paced yet consistently watchable thriller that benefits substantially from Cruise's engrossing performance, as the actor effortlessly steps into the shoes of an impressively hardened figure with a propensity for random acts of violence and tough-guy posturing (eg in one of the movie's more amusing moments, Reacher tells a foe, "I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot.") McQuarrie's leisurely modus operandi results in a midsection that does, admittedly, feel somewhat padded-out, with the procedural-like bent of the narrative ensuring that Jack Reacher, at times, resembles the pilot episode of a new cop show on TNT. And although the protracted climax isn't quite as riveting as one might've hoped, Jack Reacher is, in the end, a better-than-average modern-day thriller that hopefully marks the start of a promising new series.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (September 7/15)
The Mission: Impossible series finally runs out of steam with this overlong and often superfluous entry, as writer/director Christopher McQuarrie offers up a rather forgettable narrative that's perpetuated by an atypically bland villain and a surfeit of disappointing action interludes. The needlessly convoluted storyline follows Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt as he attempts to take down a rogue terrorist organization known as the Syndicate, with Hunt's continuing efforts both helped and hindered by Rebecca Ferguson's mysterious Ilsa Faust. There's little doubt that Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation gets off to an impressively engrossing start, as McQuarrie opens the proceedings with a thrilling sequence that sees Hunt clinging to the outside of an ascending airplane. From there, however, the film morphs into a disappointingly by-the-numbers actioner devoid of compelling attributes - with the been-there-done-that vibe amplified by an almost total absence of interesting, three-dimensional supporting characters. (Ferguson's boring turn as the movie's femme fatale is nothing compared to Sean Harris' almost astonishingly one-note portrayal of villain Solomon Lane.) The lack of momentum reaches a head as Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation limps into its climactic stretch, with the buildup to and execution of the padded-out, unusually tedious third act ensuring that the film concludes on as underwhelming a note as one could envision - which does confirm the picture's place as a rushed and half-baked entry within an otherwise stellar franchise.