Jan 10 2013 By Ian Bunting
My first review of 2013 sees Tom Cruise continue to put actors decades younger to shame by proving that age hasn’t diminished his considerable action chops.
Based on the character from author Lee Child’s series of books, Cruise plays-off-the-grid cop Jack Reacher as he gets to grips with a case involving a military sniper who has claimed five random victims.
Although he regularly fills the gossip columns due to his love of Scientology and his break-up with Katie Holmes, there’s one thing that you have to admit; Tom Cruise sure does provide some quality cinema.
Here he re-teams with Valkyrie collaborator, director/writer Christopher McQuarrie in only his second turn behind the camera, after slick 2000 thriller The Way of the Gun.
But what rates higher on the excitement meter is the fact that McQuarrie wrote the brilliant cult crime classic The Usual Suspects.
Everything in place for a top notch piece of work, then?
Well, for the most part, Jack Reacher is an entertaining ride.
Cruise is the highlight. His Dirty Harry-style tough guy lady-charmer spouts some testosterone-infused dialogue (“Look at my face. Do you ever wanna see me again?”) as he takes down groups of men, on one occasion using one guy’s head to bash another’s face in, analyses crime scenes and defies the Highway Code with some wild driving manoeuvres.
The opening sequence is superb. McQuarrie puts innocent victims literally right in the cross hairs of a cold and calculating sniper before Reacher gets the big build-up with a narrated back story (“Jack Reacher is a ghost”) that informs us about his military history.
McQuarrie also uses several nice ‘reveals’ when he shows characters talking to or looking at someone off camera and then pulls around or back to expose some of the film’s many twists.
But Jack Reacher is no Drive; another movie with a mysterious tough guy hero with a penchant for vehicular carnage.
For starters, Cruise and British actress Rosamund Pike (Helen) don’t fizzle enough in the chemistry stakes, certainly not in the way Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan did in Drive.
The action peaks about two-thirds of the way through with a neat car chase with a cool climax, but the finale feels lacklustre in comparison.
Maverick German director Werner Herzog’s villain, The Zec, is very intimidating, especially when trying to force someone to eat their own fingers, but has little to do throughout.
The pace drags a little too as constant re-analysing of the sniper crime scene starts to become tiresome.
But the flaws aren’t big enough to foil Cruise’s charm and brawn as he proves once again that he’s far from ready to ride off into the sunset... probably on a speeding motorbike.