I watched Jack Reacher: Never Go Back a few nights ago and I liked the movie. In particular I like both the character and the actor playing Sgt. Leach, Madalyn Horcher.
The character of Sgt. Leach is one that is a “helper” character to the main character, meaning that this character finds out information and gives it to the main character in order for the plot to advance. In function, this character is on-stage to provide exposition and/or plot complication for both the audience and the main character. Dr. John Watson from Doyle’s Sherlock stories is probably the best known helper, but it can range to much smaller parts such as Sgt. Leach in this movie. In many cases, the helper is put in physical peril, and sometimes dies, so this can be a thankless role for some actors.
Sgt. Leach: Understated
I think the reason why I noticed Madalyn Horcher’s performance is the “understated” nature of how she plays the character. While I’ve not served in the military, my uncle and grandfather did and they explained that while on duty, there is a certain detached “decorum” that soldiers are expected to follow (sort of like Spock from Star Trek), but if you know how to read what’s being said and the tonality of how it is being said, there are a whole range of emotions that you can pick up from a soldier. Horcher’s performance captured all of the nuances that I’d imagined in my mind’s eye every since my uncle told me about his military experiences. This is why it is so important to look for (and cast) actors who can bring the right emotional intensity to a specific role.
While the movie wasn’t necessarily a critical success, nevertheless it was a pretty interesting story made better by the actors in both small and large roles.