Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Jack Reacher: He's not big and it's not clever

When you think about it, it's a genius tactic. Cast the world's most famous shortarse in the part of a 6' 5" ex-military police major loved by millions of readers and watch the publicity for your film go through the roof. Bravo, Paramount. And that's not all - the most ingenious part of this nefarious plan is to follow: upon the film's release, all the chatter will be about whether or not Tom Cruise successfully fills the literary Jack Reacher's boots, rather than whether or not the film itself is a load of archaic, misogynistic crap that would have struggled to be taken seriously in 1987, let alone 2012. Well, guess what? Jack Reacher is a load of archaic, misogynistic crap that would have struggled to be taken seriously in 1987, let alone 2012, and therefore it doesn't matter a hoot whether Reacher had been played by Tom Cruise or a medium-sized beetroot.

Deducing and punching his way through the film like a small, vicious Sherlock Holmes, Cruise, it seems obligatory to point out, physically resembles the literary Jack Reacher like Woody Allen resembles the literary James Bond. But for all the pre-release hoo-ha surrounding the dissonance between author Lee Child's man-mountain and Cruise's buff hobbit, Jack Reacher's biggest problem is not its tiny star but its massive rubbishness.

With a plot that must have seemed ropey even in 2005 when the book was published, Jack Reacher trundles from one unspectacular development to another with all the wit and innovation of a straight-to-video flick found in a bargain bin in ye olde Woolworths. Instead of the force of nature found in Child's pulp fiction, the movie Reacher is a character-free character: Ethan Hunt without the sidekicks; James Bond without the sophistication; Jason Bourne without the splintered memory. He's almost as dull as The Bourne Legacy's Aaron Cross, the poor bastard. Meanwhile Werner Herzog (interesting casting only to the geekcore audience) channels the worst of the eighties' generic Euro-baddies, standing - or, when needs must, sitting - in the shadows comically muttering inconsequential 'zogwash.
If the protagonist and antagonist are ill-served in Christopher McQuarrie's creaky script, they're gods compared to the film's women. If you're in Jack Reacher and you don't have a penis, your mission, whether you choose to accept it or not, is simple: get killed or get kidnapped. That's it. And if you do get kidnapped, for Christ's sake don't try to do anything about it. That's what Tom Cruise is for!

In its meagre defence, Jack Reacher at least doesn't take itself too seriously, and Robert Duvall pops by to drop off a bag of much-needed class, but there's precious little else to recommend it. Capping off proceedings with a lacklustre fight ironically reminiscent of Lethal Weapon (a film which feels fresh as a daisy in comparison) and an uncomfortably vicious final act of violence from our hero (the bad taste of which is not washed away by a wish-fulfilling epilogue), Jack Reacher may well mark the point at which Tom Cruise is finally too old for this shit. His pecs may be in bizarrely fine fettle but his judgement is all over the place, and the question now is not whether or not he looks the part but whether he should be playing these parts at all.


  1. Aw c'mon: I can't let that headline go by without a gratuitous bit of self promotion. I know you'd do the same if I called a song 'The Incredible Suit' :)

    1. I think you should call a song 'The Incredible Suit' on the other hand, I love the song, keep it up :)

  2. Fan of the mag so i had big doubts.. especially because Mr Cruise is more than a foot shorter than the fellow hes portraying. It had excellent writing. Dialog was smart and funny. Cruise played Reacher well. The fight scenes were very believable and were not drawn out. (no shaky cam, win!) The action scenes were believable and none were over the top. Even the shooting was believable. No excessive gore. No gratuitous nudity :( and even cursing was at a minimum. I even managed to pick the absolute shittiest theater (half the picture was out of focus, broken chair, bad audio) and i still enjoyed the movie. I dont even really like Tom Cruise so thats saying something. It even had a good ending; unlike this message: ---> Bad.

  3. I agree with the writer. I'm a massive fan of the Reacher novels so I was excited about this movie. Sadly, all that excitement dribbled away in the first 20 mins and after than I only kept watching to see how bad it could get. It was epic bad. Not even funny bad. Just bad. Cruise was woeful, the action was ridiculous, the dialogue stilted, the women useless, the baddies lame. One of the worst movies I've ever seen. Shame because I actually like Cruise in other flicks and I understand the Director of this mess was responsible for one of the best movies of all time - The Usual Suspects. I have no idea what he was thinking when he made this.

  4. I rather enjoyed the movie. Especially so after reading a wide assortment of different bits from the actual novels; I found the novels completely excremental, and excruciatingly unrealistic. So, in that sense I even believe that the movie did the novels some justice by shrouding from the over-embellished aspects of the novels themselves...