This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 30th December 2012
Let’s get one thing out of the way – Tom Cruise is great. Playing the eponymous hero of Lee Child’s best-selling novels, admittedly he is “supposed” to be taller, more rugged, “a drifter with nothing to lose” (which Cruise clearly is not) – but Cruise plays it like he did in A Few Good Men and keeps us engaged, even amused, throughout the two-hour running time.
Child is evidently a success because he knows how to spin a yarn, and since his book is adapted by director Christopher McQuarrie (writer of The Usual Suspects) this tale delivers in spades. Evoking 90s whodunit movies like Kiss the Girls, it sets up a shocking crime, throws us some curve balls, introduces a renegade protagonist who immediately intuits that all is not as it seems, and then partners us on a merry dance.
Crucial to our engagement is the support of ex-Bond girl Rosamund Pike and fellow Brit David Oyelowo (still best known to me as Danny from Spooks). The ever-excellent Richard Jenkins plays the district attorney against whom Reacher and his lawyer must fight to uncover the truth. Even Robert Duvall gets in on the action. The only slight miscasting is legendary director Werner Herzog as the German-intoned Russian baddie.
Once all the surprises are revealed, however, the goody and baddies lay down their guns and engage in a pretty standard rain-drenched bit of mano a mano. But, despite this Jack Reacher is a force to be reckoned with, and Cruise owns him.