Saturday 5 January 2013

Film Review: Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Jai Courtney, Werner Herzog
Running time: 130 minutes

The first film to be centred on Lee Child's burly super sleuth, Jack Reacher is a combination of Bourne thrills with Sherlock Holmes-esque deduction that hits the target for the most part. 

After a sniper brutally murders five innocents in cold blood, the police consider it an open and shut case after an ex-military sniper is hauled in for committing the multiple shootings. It's only when he requests one thing ('Get Jack Reacher') that the plot thickens and the conspiracy deepens.

As murder mysteries/crime thrillers go, Jack Reacher sticks to the hymn sheet, the various twists and turns in the narrative not coming as too much of a surprise for those in the audience who are familiar with the genre conventions. Given the degree to which he makes the role his own, it could be argued that Jack Reacher would suffer greatly without the involvement of Tom Cruise as the titular hero.

Cruise is, if you'll pardon the pun, in cruise control throughout. Whilst he may not physically resemble author Lee Child's written description of Reacher, Cruise does ooze an on-screen presence that proves that this is his show. Whether it's taking on five goons in a bar fight single-handed or unleashing a razor-sharp wit on suspects, Cruise makes it look effortless - his depiction of Reacher not being too far removed from that of Ethan Hunt from Mission: Impossible.

Elsewhere, Rosamund Pike is charming, if a little unremarkable as lawyer Helen Rodin. Her most impressive scenes come at the films beginning when she is talked into meeting with the families of the victims; other than that, her character is put in the shade by those around her.

Jai Courtney is slightly underwritten as Charlie but he makes a big enough impression to perk my interest for his upcoming turn as McClane Jnr. in A Good Day To Die Hard. Likewise, Werner Herzog's genuinely chilling villain The Zec is underused, his true motives skated over slightly. This is the film's biggest failing; it focuses so much on Reacher, important plot points tend to have been pushed into the background in his place.

In terms of action, the films centrepiece comes in the form of a car chase that sees Reacher chase Jai Courtney's villain in a bright red classic muscle car. Full of flashing headlights, squealing tyres and burnt rubber, this chase is genuinely thrilling, as exciting and engaging as anything you would find in a Fast and Furious or Bond film.

On the whole then, Jack Reacher is a fairly standard run-of-the-mill crime caper that is elevated above others through some pulse-pounding action sequences, hilarious one-liners and Cruise's own charisma and presence. It would set your world on fire, but it won't bore you too tears. Good, but not great.

I give Jack Reacher: 6/10

See this if you liked: Alex Cross, Taken 2, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Bourne series.

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