Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher **

Directed By Christopher McQuarrie

Certificate 12A

Running Time 130 minutes

Cast – Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo,  Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog and Robert Duvall

TOM Cruise’s latest action feature, Jack Reacher, has sold itself as a gritty action movie in the mould of Dirty Harry and Pierre Morel’s Taken. But despite a strong central performance by its leading man, Christopher McQuarrie’s feature plays out as uninspired and formulaic feature that lacks any real edge or grit.

Cruise is joined onscreen by a strong principle cast, including former Bond girl, British actress Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo. Famed filmmaker and documentarian Werner Herzog and Hollywood legend Robert Duvall also feature.

Reacher is a fictional character created by British author Lee Childs, described by Cruise as ‘an analogue character in a digital age.’ The former military officer who has disappeared off the radar, becoming something of urban legend, He’s a man uninterested in the truth, but just doing what is right. Reacher resurfaces in Pittsburgh after a former army colleague requests his help after he is arrested for the murder of 5 seemingly innocent people.

Reacher is hired to investigate this seemingly open and shut case the case by Rosamund Pike’s defence attorney character, Helen Rodin, who isn’t convinced of her client’s guilt. When Reacher begins to shift through the evidence, he begins to believe that everything might not be as it seems.

Cruise’s selection to play the character onscreen caused a considerable outcry from fans of novels, many felt the 5ft 7 actor was the wrong man to play the fictional 6ft 5 book’s protagonist. Taking the height issue aside, Cruise handles himself competently onscreen, he has all the physical attributes of a great action movie star, but it’s such a shame to see his talent go so wasted with this rather tame effort.

Having watched Cruise play edgier roles in the past, noticeably in Michael Mann’s 2004 feature, Collateral, I’d hoped for something akin to that performance, while the trademark Cruise grin is nowhere to be scene, the actor is hampered with a below par, uninspired and plodding screenplay.

McQuarrie adapted the film’s screenplay along with his directorial duties on the feature, the American has obvious talent as a writer, having worked on the script for The Usual Suspects, but his work here is somewhat suspect. It’s all over the place, lurching from a gritty action movie to moments of outright comedy. One scene in particular perfectly demonstrates this problem, as Reacher investigates a suspect’s home searching for clues. He is set upon by three henchmen and the ensuing sequence would be more at home within the Three Stooges movie than in an action feature.

Cinematically there’s nothing that makes the film stand out either, with uninspiring and generic cinematography. Even its centrepiece sequence, a high-octane car chase through the darkened streets of Pittsburgh made me yearn for Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 cult classic, Drive.

Probably my biggest gripe with the feature is how criminally underdeveloped some of its characters are, in particular Werner Herzog’s mysterious character known as, The Zec. The Bavarian director was an inspired choice to portray the film’s antagonist, despite lacking any real acting credentials, Herzog has all the makings of a classic Bond villain, with his strong physical presence and Bavarian accent, it’s such a shame to see him so underused.

Overall there’s nothing inherently bad about Cruise’s latest feature, but for me there was a real sense of disappointment with the final product. With only a 12A viewing certificate the film falls into the same trap as Taken 2. Everything just felt terribly tame and far too hollywoodized, those hoping for a gritty action feature will have their hopes dampened.

Review By William McClean

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