Jack Reacher

Art & Culture


Jack Reacher is not so much an action hero as Action Man. He 's big, strong, smart and dedicated to justice wherever his services are needed. He's a rolling stone, to whom women are unaccountably but irresistibly attracted. He is a male fantasy. He is Tom Cruise.
In this movie adaptation of one of Lee Child's novels, Tiny Tom is playing a character who is (in the books) 6' 5". But let's be fair. How many 6' 5" major Hollywood film stars are there? Precisely none. There aren't even any especially big ones. Unless you cast Jason Statham, it's hard to think of anyone hard enough for the role.
So why not cast Tom Cruise? OK, so he's pushing 50, but when we see him with his shirt off (as we do), he looks like he might be a good deal younger. He's been using Grecian 2000 (or whatever is fashionable these days), so there's not a hint of gray to be seen in his hair.  Young women practically beg him to have sex with them, but he's far too decent to take advantage of his magnetic erotic quality. Oh yes, and he's trying to solve a seemingly open and shut case involving a military sniper who has shot five innocent passers by, then asked for Reacher in person. I don't think I'll be giving too much away if I suggest that it's just possible that he's innocent.
This Tom Cruise film is a machine tooled product, but it is also strangely old fashioned. The whole thing is designed to make him look good, both morally and physically. He can do now wrong, is virtually invulnerable, however many fights he gets into (unwillingly, of course), he outsmarts the opposition, drives faster, shoots straighter and probably flosses better too. And did I mention that women can't get enough of him? Poor Rosamund Pike, who has recently slipped into being ready made eye candy, is reduced to heaving her bosom at a deeply uninterested Cruise, when she's not twirling her 1980s hairstyle.
But then, films like this use as much talent as they can to make the star look good. Which explains the presence of Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo, who are all much too good to appear in multiplex fodder like this. And even the erstwhile directorial skills of Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects 15 years ago are unable to raise this above the run of the mill. The purpose of a film like this is to kick start a new franchise for the Cruiser. Mission Impossible is reaching the end of the road, and something else has to take its place. But I don't think this is the right stuff. Not even Werner Herzog as the sinister bad guy is enough to save this routine been-there-done-that action movie from feeling stale flat and unprofitable.

Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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