It was supposed to The Hobbit. That was always the plan. The Hobbit on new years’day.
But a number of factors were thrown in the mix as we had a family discussion before setting out. Showing times was an issue. The length of the film was against certain hung over members of the family. 3D or not 3D was also the question. An easy alternative was Jack Reacher. Put to the vote, the family voted overwhelmingly to kick the new year off with Tom Cruise rather than Tolkien.
I found that I was less disappointed with this turn of events than I thought I would be. I was kind of looking forward to the sprawling epic that The Hobbit undoubtedly is - but on the other hand, I’m not particularly a fan of Tolkien’s work. There - I’ve said it. Not a popular stance, but it’s the damn truth. I’ve read The Hobbit and found it tough going, it’s just not the type of story I like to read. (I just couldn’t face reading the Rings trilogy). They’re works I think I would rather be shown than imagine myself. I will certainly see The Hobbit, but I’m guessing it’ll be in the comfort of home,
Before I get to Jack Reacher, there were trailers. One of which I loved - Bruce Willis’s latest Die Hard film with the worst title ever - A Good Day To Die Hard. Despite that clunker of a title, the movie looks like a must-see. (I also liked the teaser poster’s line "Yippie Kay Yay, Mother Russia".
And there was the new Star Trek trailer. Or, more accurately, Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Oh good lord, what fresh hell is this?
I didn’t care much for J.J.Abrams’ first trek movie, it’s saving grace being the appearance of Leonard Nimoy for probably the last time as Spock, but this one had me looking on at the trailer (which is designed to make me want to WATCH the movie) with disdain and disgust. They apparently crash the Enterprise. Again? So soon? When it happened in Star trek 3: The Search For Spock it had an emotional resonance because the ship had been around for decades, same with the Enterprise - E in Star Trek:Generations.
Oh, and the ship also appears to rise majestically out of the sea.
In the interests for fairness, I will probably give it a viewing, but mark my words, this ain’t gonna be pretty.
Now, Jack Reacher. The film is based on a character in a series of books, but from what I gather, the Reacher of the books is over six and a half feet tall. Thankfully, they don’t use "Hagrid" type camera trickery to boost Tom Cruise’s height by about eighteen inches - that part of the character is basically ignored, much to the chagrin of Reacher purists. Reacher is also not just a man’s man, but a man’s man’s man’s man. He’s THAT much of a tough as nails macho badass, and that’s an element they’ve left in the movie.
Reacher is an ex soldier, a military policeman now living a semblance of civilian life off the grid. He has no car, no fixed abode, no regular associates, jus a pension that he draws from time to time. He travels around by bus, usually under an assumed name and is one of the best homicide investigators in the business. He’s also a walking lethal weapon of mass destruction and physical pain.
The film opens with a sequence that reminded me a lot of Dirty Harry (1971) with a sniper scanning the rooftops through the telescopic lens of his rifle. The difference being that the sniper in this instance takes down several seeming innocuous targets. Enter Reacher (Cruise) who aids the prosecutor played by Rosamund Pike (who played the double agent Miranda frost in Die Another Day) who is the daughter of Rodin the District Attorney. (Rodin is played by Richard Jenkins who has one of those faces that bother you through the movie because you KNOW you’ve seen him, but can’t figure out in what. Then you get the face palm thing when you get home, boot up the computer and hit the IMDB, where you realise it’s Witches of Eastwick, Intolerable Cruelty, Burn After Reading etc, etc ....and most recently, Cabin in the Woods.)
Reacher’s methods are unorthodox as he’s practically untraceable so he’s free to cause as much mayhem and torture captive henchmen for leads and information as he needs to in the pursuit of the truth. But for me, a definite high point is an old school car chase through the streets of Pittsburgh. I don’t believe I’ve EVER seen a car chase through Pittsburgh before, and this one is a beaut. No improbable over-the-top CGI heavy stunts involving aerodynamics that no car could ever achieve, nor stunt man survive. No hidden ramps causing one car to go flying over another for no apparent reason (other than hitting a gravitational not spot) while yet another rolls over fifteen times. This is just a cops vs anti-hero in a souped up muscle car mayhem fuelled fender bender involving real cars, real stunts and real stuntmen. We don’t get many of these any more. Nice also to see an increasingly rare appearance by Robert Duvall as a helpful gun nut, assisting Reacher, while keeping one eye closed "to preserve my night vision".
All in all, that was a hectic two hours and ten minutes of a really enjoyable movie that I truly hope will become another ongoing franchise for the versatile Tom Cruise. Much as I want to see the next adventure for Ethan Hawke and his Mission:Impossible team, I’d like to see those alternated with further jobs for Jack Reacher.
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