Film review: Jack Reacher

REACH FOR THE STARS: Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike in Jack Reacher.
REACH FOR THE STARS: Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike in Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher (M)(130 min)

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog.

Let's get the height thing out of the way early: Maybe if you're a fan of the Lee Child books, then you're never going to swallow Tom Cruise in the role.

Child describes Jack Reacher as being 'six feet 5 inches', while Cruise would be lucky to make five feet 8 in his little cotton socks.

But it just doesn't matter. Cruise plays Reacher, in every way except vertically, exactly as Child wrote him, and then some.

Reacher is a taciturn everyman, broken down to his essential parts, and then put back together with a fairly horrific skill-set, and a moral code carved in granite. He is, in short, a swaying tower of monkey dung, assembled to sell truck-loads of paperbacks for middle-aged men to read propped on their softening bellies, dreaming of dispensing two-fisted justice to the local villains, and then granting a night of carnality to some convenient young admirer that will have her sighing his name long after he has caught the next Greyhound bus out of town.

The great achievement of Jack Reacher is that it plays the character straight, but in the full knowledge that we – the audience – know that the man is ludicrous, the storyline ridiculous, and that none of what is happening on screen is to be taken seriously for a second.

Director Christopher McQuarrie is best known as the writer of The Usual Suspects, and Valkyrie. He is no fool.

With Cruise on board, both as star and producer, McQuarrie has been given the freedom to make Jack Reacher in the only way that could yield a watchable film. The plot is a moderately engrossing yarn about an old colleague of Reacher's being set up to take the fall for an apparently random sniper attack.

Soon the once-military policeman is up to his pec's in conspiracy and corruption. Nothing, of course, that Reacher can't sort out with a few Holmesian deductions, a couple of roundhouse kicks, a classic car chase, and a well choreographed gunfight towards the end.

Meanwhile Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall, and – yay!- Werner Herzog are all manfully holding back the laughter and parading their various shades of decrepit hard-assery up and down the stage. With that support cast, Cruise practically winking at the camera, and a talent in the director's chair who can stage both a stunt and one liner with equal precision, there is a lot about this Jack Reacher to enjoy.

The Dominion Post