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Jack Reacher


Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall, Jai Courtney, Alexia Fast

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Lee Child's One Shot is an absorbing, intelligent and persuasively written page-turner for action fans. Alas, Tom Cruise Productions have pretty much made a mess of it, turning it into a thick-ear thriller with frequently risible dialogue and a borderline comic Russian villain, blearily played by German film director Herzog.

This is surely not the Reacher of Child's best-sellers. Well, Cruise is 10 inches shorter to begin with, so presumably feels the need for such laughably macho dialogue as 'I was born in October. When I get to my birthday, I'm going to pull this trigger. One look at me and you know I'm not bluffing'.

And there's a ludicrous scene in which an inept hireling is invited to eat his own fingers as an alternative to being shot. In another, two bad guys KO Cruise, knocking him into a bath, then contrive to flail away with baseball bats, missing this prone figure every time before one knocks the other for six with a backward swing.

The plot - and poor Child must be spinning on his royalties - concerns a 'random' sniper-shooting of five people, which is obviously anything but, and the subsequent arrest of the 'shooter' (who has previous history), who promptly calls for Reacher, whom he has known - to his cost - in the army.

Pike plays the accused's lawyer with an enviable array of plunging necklines and a permanently bewildered expression - the scene where she tells Cruise to put his shirt on and he won't (well, it's his film) got one of the movie's many titters - like a rabbit caught in the headlights. One almost hoped that when the villain kidnaps her, she could be subjected to a little torture so that one could mutter 'Don't tell him, Pike!'

The action does provide some routine bang-bang excitement - two bad guys obligingly prowl out in the open at the end - and there's a decent part for Duvall, as a veteran rifle-range owner, who brings a touch of unteachable class to the film. Good Brit actor Oyelowo has a role as the chief cop on the case that he can do little with, and Jenkins plays Jenkins playing a DA as Pike's father.

Although the car chases - if professionally shot - are nothing new, Cruise, so fit at 50, impresses us once more by doing all his own stuntwork. All in all, though, a huge disappointment: hit the road, Jack.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Paramount. Technicolor.
132 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 20 Dec 2012