One Big Scene: Bone-Crunching Car Chase Helps 'Jack Reacher' Roar to Life

Jack Reacher is a ghost, a man who took himself off the “grid” a long time ago and never found a reason to return. But when trouble arises, this ex-military officer often magically surfaces, drawing a line between evil-doers and their hopeless victims. 

Fans of Lee Child’s best-selling Jack Reacher books are eagerly anticipating this weekend’s adaptation, which casts Tom Cruise as the iconic investigator who leads with his fists … even though he’s often the smartest guy in the room. The film translates the novel One Shot, about a tragic crime that’s being hung on a former Army sniper, even though he might be innocent. And while there are several investigative scenes of trained detectives piecing together the clues of a larger puzzle, there’s One Big (Muscle-bound) Scene that we think you absolutely need to see – and hear – on the big screen.  
 
 
Here are the details:   
 
What the critics are saying:
“Cruise carries off the part with a bruising panache, as at home in a brawl or car chase as he is in droll banter with the mere mortals who surround him.”
Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune
 
“Besides being a mind teaser, Jack Reacher offers the muscular thrills of a `70s action flick.”
Christy Lemire, The AP
 
“Jack Reacher does its work sleekly and well.”
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribue
 
What we are saying:
When was the last time a movie entertained us with a lengthy car chase sequence? I think I’d have to go all the way back to Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 exploitation exercise Death Proof to think of a memorable automobile scene. 
 
Jack Reacher rectifies that with a thrilling, extended chase around the rain-soaked streets of Pittsburgh. Cruise’s character pulls up to a motel to find police officers waiting his arrival. He spots a body being lifted into an ambulance … and he knows he’s in trouble. Rather than stick around to answer questions, he throws his meaty Chevelle SS into reverse, jams on the gas pedal, and kick-starts an exhilarating scene. 
 
But beyond seeing this sequence from Jack Reacher on the big screen, you have to hear it in the proper sound mix of a theater. Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie often focuses as much on the echo-chambers of his scenes as he does on his striking visuals. Think of the explosive boom of guns being fired in the director's The Way of the Gun. Like those shots, the roar of the Chevelle’s engine can be felt in your gut. 
 
In one of the chase scene's finest moments, the car Reacher is pursuing (driven by Jai Courtney) heads down one side of a two-lane tunnel in his silent automobile. But when he emerges on the other side, he hears Reacher's car coming long before he sees the actual car. No matter how good your sound system is at home, replicating the growl of Reacher’s gorgeous Chevelle SS would be difficult. 
 
Plus, the end of the car chase, and the method with which Reacher actually escapes, is a great payoff to a winning scene. It’s this week’s One Big Scene, and something we absolutely think you need to see in a movie theater.
 

 
One Big Scene is a weekly column dedicated to spectacular visual sequences we’re recommending you see in the theater. If you have ones you’d like us to write about, let us know in the comments section below.
 
Follow along on Twitter @Sean_OConnell and @Fandango
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