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Jack Reacher - Review

Jack Reacher

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TOM Cruise may have surprised many when he was cast as the 6ft 8ins Jack Reacher but the ensuing film overcomes any notion that it could fail to measure up to Lee Child’s popular novel.

Rather, thanks to a slick, often darkly humorous script from Christopher (The Usual Suspects) McQuarrie and some muscular direction from the same man, it’s a hugely enjoyable potential franchise starter that adheres to a more classic style of movie-making befitting the thrillers of the ’70s.

And while Cruise may lack the imposing physicality of the book version of Reacher, he holds his own in the strong, no-nonsense, take no shit stakes.

What’s more, he’s surrounded by some great talent, including two top drawer villains in newcomer Jai Courtney and the enigmatic Werner Herzog, as well as the likes of Richard Jenkins, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall and David Oyelowo.

The plot is based on the ninth book in the series, One Shot, and finds Reacher called in to investigate some random sniper shootings.

The case appears to be open and shut with the chief suspect in custody, albeit comatose. But upon delving deeper things are far from as simple as they seem.

A lot of what’s right about Jack Reacher can be attributed to McQuarrie, whose grasp of the material coupled with his passion for the type of films he likes to watch elevate this to a far higher status than early scepticism suggests.

His dialogue, in particular, sparkles, his handling of the set pieces brutally efficient and there’s a resolutely old school feel to the way things are done that recalls the great thriller traditions of the ’70s (from Bullitt through to Dirty Harry) as well as the directors own criminally overlooked classic The Way of The Gun.

As a result, the performances rise to the quality of the material too. Cruise is good value, Pike enjoys some great scenes with him (the snappy nature of their dialogue is huge fun) and Jenkins and Oweloyo provide nice foils and rivals in the case solving stakes (the latter, in particular, displays the brash intensity of a young Sidney Poitier).

The villains, too, are great, especially Courtney (soon to be seen as Bruce Willis’s son in Die Hard 5), who has an undeniable screen presence and who proves an adept adversary for Reacher.

Praise, too, for the thrilling and sometimes shocking nature of the set pieces, most notable of which is the slick but disturbing sniper attack that opens the film, as well as the rip-roaring car chase (Cruise, again, did his own stunts), and the final, well choreographed showdown.

Jack Reacher isn’t without some flaws (as good as Cruise is you could still make a case for someone gruffer in the classic Eastwood/McQueen mould), while some moments feel contrived.

But given how much fun you should be having, this is a hugely entertaining crowd-pleaser that more than deserves to pave the way for more Reacher adventures on the big screen.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 130mins
UK Release Date: December 26, 2012