Jack Reacher (12A, 130 mins)
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Fans of the Lee Child novels which brought us the character of Jack Reacher are apparently up in arms because he’s supposed to be a massive, hulking former soldier turned drifter. Reacher here is played by the distinctly non-massive Tom Cruise, but that really isn’t a problem unless you’re totally hung up on the height thing, because Cruise is a movie star of the highest order.
In a coldly terrifying opening, a gunman takes out random passers-by from a distance with a high powered rifle. An arrest is made, with Richard Jenkins as the DA looking to put the guy away and Rosamund Pike as his daughter, a defence lawyer who hires Reacher as an investigator to find out the truth.
This first adaptation of Child’s books is being sold as some sort of revenge thriller in the style of Taken, when in fact it’s much more of a traditional police procedural, albeit a highly compelling one. Reacher is a man of action though, and capable of beating up anyone who crosses his path, which he does frequently.
Everything about it screams ridiculousness, and luckily it knows it, otherwise the would-be slick banter and clunky exposition would be too hard to swallow with a straight face. Reacher’s past gets explained to us in a way that would be moronic if it weren’t so tongue in cheek, but it could sometimes do with an injection of pace or a complete commitment to luridness to match its silliness.
Werner Herzog of all people turns up as the bad guy heading the conspiracy, and he adds ripeness, Cruise is magnetic, and Pike is terrible, all making for a hugely enjoyable slice of pulp.