Solid genre piece not too tax­ing for Cruise

Bray People - - LIFESTYLE - JACK REACHER (12A)

THE US pre­miere of Jack Reacher, an ex­plo­sive ac­tion thriller based on the book One Shot by Lee Child, was post­poned in the wake of the shoot­ings at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School. The de­ci­sion was un­der­stand­able. Christo­pher McQuar­rie's film opens with heart-stop­ping scenes of a sniper tak­ing aim at in­no­cent by­s­tanders on a river­bank, in­clud­ing a nanny cradling a ter­ri­fied young child in her arms.

Viewed through the gun man's high-pow­ered ri­fle scope to the steady beat of his breath­ing, the mas­sacre sends shiv­ers down the spine as shots ring out and fig­ures tum­ble like rag dolls to the ground. McQuar­rie ac­com­plishes this haunt­ing set piece with brio and re­straint, re­play­ing the slaugh­ter from myr­iad per­spec­tives later in the film as po­lice un­cover the clues to the shooter's iden­tity. Noth­ing else in Jack Reacher comes close to this bravura se­quence and the ini­tial rush of adren­a­line in our veins eases to a steady pulse.

Former mil­i­tary of­fi­cer Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a ghost in the sys­tem, even to the US government with all of the top-se­cret tech­nol­ogy and re­sources at its dis­posal. He is lured out of hid­ing when a men­tally un­sta­ble sniper, James Barr (Joseph Sikora), is ar­rested for the mur­der of five in­no­cent peo­ple out­side PNC Park in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Be­fore Barr slips into a coma, he writes down three words - Get Jack Reacher. On cue, Jack makes con­tact with lead de­tec­tive Emer­son (David Oyelowo) and District At­tor­ney Rodin (Richard Jenk­ins), con­vinced that the cops have caught their per­pe­tra­tor. “I didn't come here to help (Barr). I came here to bury him,” growls Jack.

How­ever, Rodin's daugh­ter, de­fence at­tor­ney He­len Rodin (Rosamund Pike), isn't con­vinced of Barr's guilt and she hires Jack to check the foren­sics. A scat­ter­shot chain of ev­i­dence leads Jack to crim­i­nal mas­ter­mind The Zec ( Werner Her­zog) and his sharp­shoot­ing hench­man (Jai Court­ney), whose busi­ness in­ter­ests may play part in the un­fold­ing mys­tery.

Jack Reacher is the first chap­ter of a po­ten­tial new fran­chise for Cruise, based on the ninth book in Child's on­go­ing se­ries. It's a solid genre piece, punc­tu­ated by smartly or­ches­trated ac­tion se­quences, in­clud­ing a night-time chase through city streets and a cou­ple of bruis­ing fist fights.

Cruise isn't stretched in the lead role, which asks him to play rough and tough, telling one bad guy: “I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot!” That seems slightly ex­treme, not to men­tion un­hy­gienic.

Pike is an ap­peal­ing love in­ter­est but Her­zog is woe­fully mis­cast as an ex-con, who gnawed off his dig­its in prison and in­spires un­in­ten­tional hi­lar­ity rather than fear with his ut­ter­ances.

Thank­fully, Robert Du­vall's ap­pear­ance as the owner of a shoot­ing range in the sec­ond half pre­vents the film from cap­siz­ing.

Jack Reacher is the first chap­ter of a po­ten­tial new fran­chise for Cruise.

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