12/21/2012 11:32 | By Neil Smith, contributor, MSN Movies

Jack Reacher review

Tom Cruise is a big guy in a small man’s body in the first Lee Child bestseller to reach the big screen.

Jack Reacher

Release date: 26 December 2012
Certificate: 12A
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall

What’s the story?
An ex-military investigator who lives off the grid (Cruise) comes out of the shadows to help a Pittsburgh attorney (Pike) defend a former sniper believed responsible for a shooting spree.

What did we think?
Though Reacher die-hards will never accept Cruise in the title role, that shouldn’t stop the unaffiliated or the not-really-bothered enjoying this slick, old-school thriller. Even they, though, will be rightly unsettled by an unfortunate opening that seems to take an undue relish in the systematic gunning down of unsuspecting bystanders.

Puffing out his chest and frowning doesn’t quite make Tom Cruise the equal of the six foot four, heavily built hero of Lee Child’s bestselling Jack Reacher series. If you have no particular loyalty to the novels, however, the star does a perfectly adequate job in a role with little call for his customary boyish bravado.

The problems lie elsewhere in Christopher McQuarrie’s film, which starts with a mass shooting that can’t help feel woefully ill-timed. It also boasts a villainous cameo from German director Werner Herzog that is so freakishly bizarre it turns what should be a dramatic showdown into the stuff of farce.

Elsewhere this Jack is anything but a dull boy, the Cruiser committing wholeheartedly to the various punch-ups, shoot-outs and car chases required by a film that very much has one foot in the ’70s. As the female lead, alas, Rosamund Pike is a wan washout in a part which asks little of her but to gaze admiringly in her co-star’s direction. Indeed, the only visible chemistry here is between Cruise and his old Days of Thunder mucker Robert Duvall, lending his usual crusty gusto to the gun-shop owner who joins Jack in the firing line.

Jack Reacher - £ stars

Verdict: Problem Child.

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