While I was at Harrogate Crime Festival, I attended an interview with Lee Child and his brother Andrew, who’s taken over as author of the Jack Reacher books. The interview helped explain the rationale behind that move, and I found it reassuring. I’d been reluctant to read a Reacher by Andrew but, having heard them speak, and having briefly met the them both afterwards, I will do now.

During the interview, the inevitable question came up about Tom Cruise playing Reacher. A key thing that Lee Child had to say was that he wouldn’t hear a bad word said about Cruise. He talked about his professionalism and commitment to doing whatever necessary to make a film the best it could be – although he did seem to acknowledge that Cruise’s stature might’ve taken the edge off his portrayal.

Of course, there’s been a lot of comment over the last couple of years about Cruise’s commitment to his movies. Top Gun: Maverick and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning have been released in that time and, coming out after covid restrictions, have been just the kind of escapism cinema-goers needed. Even the anticipation has been exciting, especially with all the publicity around them.

Dead Reckoning in particular has had a lot of press, particularly reports of Cruise’s alleged outbursts when crew members didn’t appear to abide by covid rules while filming. To some, it might have seemed prima donna-ish, to others it underlined his professionalism and determination to achieve the best outcome for the movie. Most of us will never know the truth. All we can do is watch it and decide whether the end result is satisfying or not.

Two nights after listening to Lee Child, I found myself in a cinema watching Dead Reckoning. My original intention had been to watch it in IMAX. It’s an expensive option, and I wouldn’t go to watch every film in that format but, if there’s a potential for a spectacle, IMAX is hard to beat. If you haven’t tried it, but like movies, give it a go. I should add that my local IMAX screen is in Sheffield and, outside of London, is the biggest in the country, so I have been spoiled.

In spite of this, circumstances meant the IMAX window had closed before I was able to go. Instead, we decided to try something called ScreenX. In short, using this format, there are moments when the film is projected on to the side walls as well as the screen in front. This was our first time with it, but it sounded promising.

Having experienced it once, the jury’s still out for me. There were pros and cons to it – and I might write more about ScreenX another time. For now, I think I prefer IMAX.

As for the movie itself, let’s just say that, if Tom Cruise is a prima donna, the crew’s suffering was worth it.

There’s been a lot of publicity about a particular stunt that was done in the film. Reports suggest that Cruise rode the motorbike off the cliff six times to be sure he could get it right. If that isn’t commitment to the job, I don’t know what is.

Of course, how that stunt fits into the storyline and why the hell anyone would do it was still a mystery until I watched the film. For the benefit of those who are yet to see it, I will keep that under wraps. All I will say is, it does make sense, and there are elements to it that are both funny and tragic. And, even though I knew it was coming, I did have to remind myself to breathe when it happened.

Obviously, there was a lot of other stuff in the film, but there are no spoilers here. What I will share with you is the following:

  • The McGuffin barely made any sense, but it didn’t need to
  • Visually, it was stunning. I can only imagine how much better it would’ve been in IMAX
  • The running time was almost three hours, but it didn’t feel like it. The ending came along far too soon for me – which is usually a good sign
  • As far as the ending itself is concerned, it did feel a little rushed, yet also incomplete – but the clue was in the title. It was Part One, and it was always going to leave things hanging – and not just the train!

My only real complaint is that I’ve now got to wait until next summer to watch the second part. Which means I’ll almost certainly have to watch this one again nearer the time. Great marketing from the studio’s point of view, but I won’t begrudge it. This is a film I’m sure I’ll want to see several times. It’ll just be a shame that I won’t see it on the big screen again – unless I head back to the cinema in the next couple of weeks…

And, with this trailer, could you blame me?