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film review

‘I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot’ – Tom Cruise

The pocket dynamo bulks up with vests and flannels but can’t save Jack Reacher

Credit: Paramount

“My name is Jack Reacher. No middle name, no address.”

There have been 17 books by British author Lee Child on Jack Reacher, a man described in one review as ‘Part-Robin Hood, part-gorilla’, and each one has made best-seller lists upon publication.

Tom Cruise, on the look-out for a new vehicle go sit alongside the successful Mission Impossible franchise, jumped on the idea of bringing the ex-military cop to the screen.

Borrowing from the book One Shot, the seventh in the series, Reacher arrives in town to fulfill a promise he made to a trigger-happy soldier after a spate of random shootings.

The major leap for fans of Reacher is Cruise, whose Skydance Productions are co-producing the film, playing the lead role and, in the process, diluting the essence of the character.

Cruise’s Reacher may wear heavy boots, flannel shirts and take public transport but he is lacking over a foot in stature.

The 50-year-old actor, it would appear, convinced himself he had the acting chops to make it work but his ego, and a frequently woeful script, gets in the way.

Hot stuff, coming through

As soon as Reacher hits town [Pittsburgh] he is swooned over by every woman he locks eyes with and, within two hours of his arrival, becomes lead investigator on the case of the comatose sniper heading for Death Row.

Within 24 hours he starts to unravel an open and shut case, which really begins to cheese off the District Attorney [Richard 'Six Feet Under' Jenkins].

While sipping on a mug of coffee at a spit and sawdust bar, Reacher is propositioned by a cherry-lipped but clueless teenager called Sandy [Alexia Fast].

He spurns her advances but soon has to break some bones and talk some trash out in the street after her buddies take offence to his middle-aged coffee drinking.

Two patrol cars scream onto the scene with suspicious efficiency and Reacher smiles wryly – he knows he is asking the right questions.

Chuckles and assault rifles

The pace of the film increases as Reacher gets closer to uncovering the real reason by the seemingly random shooting dead of five individuals at a riverside park in Pittsburgh.

The snappiest scene arrives as Reacher tracks down Sandy at an auto-parts warehouse and leaves her hapless manager quivering.

Unintentional comedy litters the film, sparked the moment dead-eyed bad guy Werner Herzog opens his mouth, and continues every time a male character gives Reacher a nod of respect or a female character undresses him with her eyes.

Two moments are significant in turning the story from a who-really-dunnit into a well meaning but misdirected farce.

  • Reacher lying prone in a bath-tub as two junkies make six or seven failed attempts to bludgeon him to death.
  • When public defender, Helen [Rosamund Pike] is held for randsom, Reacher grabs a payphone and tells her kidnapper, “I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot.”

Robert Duvall shows up for the final 20 minutes to lend some gravitas to the whole affair but not even some fancy driving in reverse and a decent fight in the rain can save the day when Cruise and Herzog come face to face.

Watch Cruise in Jack Reacher action here:

YouTube credit: joblomovienetwork


A friend of mine told me he would go to see this film regardless of what I thought because he loves mindless action flicks. I’m a fan of the genre – I love 12 Rounds and Eagle Eye.

Nonetheless, Jack Reacher is a by-the-numbers effort that would go straight to DVD if it were not for the big name that is trying to fill the massive shoes of its title character.

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