On-form Cruise lacks di­rec­tion

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

De­spite con­cerns over Tom Cruise’s suit­abil­ity for the role from fans of Lee Childs’ nov­els, his turn as for­mer army ma­jor-turned-in­ves­ti­ga­tor Jack Reacher back in 2012 was one of his finest in re­cent years.

Like a less smi­ley and ad­ven­ture-seek­ing Ethan Hunt, Reacher saw Cruise fur­row his brow and join the likes of Matt Da­mon and Daniel Craig in the se­ri­ous, a**-kick­ing ac­tion he­roes bri­gade.

For this sec­ond go-around, we jump ahead to the 18th book in the Reacher se­ries and find the lead­ing man on the run as a fugi­tive af­ter he gets caught up in a ma­jor gov­ern­ment con­spir­acy.

Cruise’s Last Sa­mu­rai di­rec­tor Ed­ward Zwick re­places Christo­pher McQuar­rie in the di­rec­tor’s chair this time around – and joins writ­ers Richard Wenk and Mar­shall Her­skovitz in adapt­ing Childs’ novel.

Los­ing The Usual Sus­pects’ scribe McQuar­rie is a blow to the se­quel as it misses his flair for hard-boiled ac­tion, flawed and grounded pro­tag­o­nists and bold cast­ing de­ci­sions – none of the dark forces on show can ri­val Werner Her­zog’s creepy per­for­mance in the first flick.

Zwick, in gen­eral, di­rects in sim­plis­tic fash­ion and while the lack of pomp and cir­cum­stance may be more in keep­ing with the Reacher found in the books, it doesn’t al­ways re­sult in an ex­cit­ing cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ence.

But no mat­ter the qual­ity of the work go­ing on around him be­hind the cam­era, you can al­ways rely on Cruise to throw ev­ery­thing into each and every part he plays.

Reacher may not cling to air­planes, cliffs and the world’s tallest build­ing like Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble’s Ethan Hunt, but Cruise still em­bod­ies the hero with in­ner steel, phys­i­cal tough­ness and vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

The lat­ter comes most to the fore dur­ing scenes with im­pres­sive teenager Dan­ish Yarosh (Sa­man­tha), who may or may not be Reacher’s daugh­ter.

Co­bie Smul­ders (Turner) ex­pands her Avengers role with an­other strong fe­male out to prove she can hang tough with her male coun­ter­parts.

There’s no get­ting away from the Her­zog­sized hole in ef­fec­tive vil­lainy, though, with only Pa­trick Heusinger’s (Frances Ha) mus­ta­chioed as­sas­sin The Hunter mak­ing any im­pres­sion on the bad side of the fence.

For­tu­nately the sto­ry­line stakes re­main high through­out and the writ­ing trio squeeze as much ten­sion out of Childs’ story as pos­si­ble.

You’re kept guess­ing as to where it’s all go­ing to end up right un­til the cli­max and in among the fisticuffs and mys­tery­solv­ing, we’re treated to mo­ments of hu­mour – not least the odd fam­ily dy­namic between Jack, Turner and Sa­man­tha.

How­ever, while the ti­tle never acts as an ap­pro­pri­ate self-ful­fill­ing prophecy, if there is more cin­e­matic Reacher to come then more vi­sion­ary direc­tors could be the way to go – what’s Christo­pher McQuar­rie up to?

Be­hind the wheel Cruise pre­pares for ac­tion as Reacher

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