Big Tom – ★★★
Little known, newly-divorced actor and recluse Tom Cruise returns to screens fronting Christopher McQuarrie’s adaptation of the hit Lee Child book Jack Reacher.
Cruise plays an ex-military police officer who has “gone off the grid” (he’s done this by using Western Union and taking the bus – the crafty divil). He is called into action by James Barr, an ex-soldier, who has been accused of a sniper assault that killed five people in the fine city of Pittsburgh. Barr won’t talk to detectives instead just saying the wonderfully vague sentence… “Get Reacher for me”.
Working with Cruise to try and work out why Barr would do something like this is Rosamund Pike as his defence attorney Helen Rodin. Richard Jenkins plays the district attorney (and Helen’s father) with the perfect conviction record who along with David Oyelowo’s Emerson wants to see Barr sentenced to death. Gradually it’s revealed that the case is not as clear-cut as it first appeared with a mysterious Russian gangster (Werner freakin Herzog) pulling the strings and Jai Courtney (soon to be seen playing John McClane’s son in Die Hard V) playing his main henchman Charlie.
The plot sounds a little convoluted and McQuarrie really does struggle to tie everything together as he double-jobs as director and screenwriter. McQuarrie is clearly a competent writer and is responsible for one of the best scripts of the 90s (The Usual Suspects) however since taking an eight year sabbatical between 2000 and 2008, some of his choices have been strange to say the least. His involvement with projects like Valkyrie and The Tourist and the upcoming “could go either way” Bryan Singer film Jack the Giant Slayer reveal a screenwriter who may well just be happy to be working again. Here it’s like there was a really great script that then got chopped and changed as it went through countless re-drafts leaving us with a film that feels more like a montage of separate episodes of procedural network crime dramas like N.C.I.S. or C.S.I. than an adaptation of one of the most popular genre novels of the last decade. Jack Reacher is clearly a great character but rather than give viewers a solid introduction to him, we’re left wanting.
| o | – Gunna get wet
The jumps in tone and logic are forgiven by some solid work from the cast. Credit has to be given to Rosamund Pike who is a delight to look at and plays the lawyer with a point to prove effortlessly with her best work since a very understated performance in Barney’s Version. A word should also go to Herzog, one of the finest directors in the world who supposedly admired McQuarrie’s skills as writer and agreed to play a villian for him. He hams it up big-time as the hardened product of the Russian gulags who lost most of his fingers in the cold. It’s pretty daft but it’s too fun to be called a car-crash.
And how could we put together a review without discussing the main man, the film’s 5″6′ action man Tom Cruise. Cruise was a delight in the superb Mission Impossible IV and continues to be an eminently watchable screen presence here provided you can put words like “rock of ages”, “oprah”, “katie” and “scientology” to the back of your mind. If we could coax him back into some dramatic roles with a bit more depth (it’s 12 years since Vanilla Sky and 14 since Magnolia) the career renaissance would be complete. Circling projects like Top Gun II and Mission Impossible V isn’t going to do anyone any favours.
Jack Reacher certainly isn’t a bad movie and is fun enough to recommend but the wild inconsistencies throughout the film makes for a pretty jarring two hours that won’t leave too much of an impression.
USA / Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie / Written By: Christopher McQuarrie / Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Richard Jenkins / 130min / Action, Crime, Thriller / Release: 26 December 2012 (UK/Ireland), 21 December 2012 (USA/Canada)