Entertainment Movies

Sunday 18 February 2018

Tom reaches for the action

Film Review: Jack Reacher. Director: Christopher McQuarrie Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall

Paul Whitington

Much has been made of the fact that while Tom Cruise stands a modest 5ft 7ins, the character he plays in this action film based on a Lee Child novel is supposed to be an imposing, 6ft 5ins, 230-pound man mountain.

Jack Reacher is a kind of avenging angel, an ex-military policeman with formidable fighting skills and a Solomon-like attitude to justice who's starred, to date, in 17 popular novels.

But whether or not Cruise is big enough to play him is rather beside the point: what's more pertinent is whether, at the grand old age of 50, Tom can still cut it as an action hero.

The answer, I'd have to say, is that he most definitely can, and he also has the sheer charisma to make this daft caper not only watchable, but fun.

In a nicely choreographed opening sequence that has eerie echoes of recent events in Newtown, Connecticut, a lone sniper opens fire on a busy Pittsburgh thoroughfare, killing five people before disappearing into the crowd.

When the police investigate, however, they find ample evidence connecting the crimes with a former army sharpshooter called James Barr (Joseph Sikora), who's promptly arrested and bullied into making a confession.

Before he's taken away, Barr makes one simple request to the cops, scribbled on a piece of paper: get Jack Reacher.

Pittsburgh's harried district attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) is still trying to find out who the hell that is when Reacher strides into his office in person and introduces himself.

The DA wants Barr executed, and Jack is equally convinced of his guilt. But when he starts doing his own investigating, Jack becomes suspicious that the crime scene was a bit too perfect, and begins to suspect there's more to Barr's case than meets the eye. Rosamund Pike plays Helen Rodin, the DA's daughter and an ambitious young attorney who's risked all by deciding to defend Barr, and together she and Jack set out to find out what really happened.

Reacher, a man of few words, sportingly tries to dissuade attackers from taking him on.

"You don't have to do this," he tells five thugs in a bar before knocking seven shades of shite out of them. Jack operates outside the law, and dispenses his own version of justice on the spot.

Cruise is very good as him, and Jack's macho preening is constantly undercut by his deadpan sense of humour.

Werner Herzog makes a bizarre and unintentionally comical turn as the villainous Zec, and there's a brilliant car chase in which Cruise apparently did most of his own driving.

Jack Reacher is fun and, I think, intentionally camp. I don't think this is the last we'll see of Reacher, and that's probably a good thing.

Released on December 26.

(12A, general release, 130 minutes)

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