There was much online consternation when Cruise cast himself as the six-foot-five Reacher, a gruff anti-hero living off the grid who metes out justice as he sees fit and not as the law dictates. After a sniper attack sees a former army colleague collared, Reacher joins forces with feisty district attorney Helen (a frequently baffled-looking Rosamund Pike) to find out who is really responsible.
McQuarrie made his name with The Usual Suspects and opts for a similar POV-juggling approach as Reacher’s investigation unfolds. A method-and-tactics approach to action (as seen in his similarly realism-based thriller The Way Of The Gun) informs the set pieces, too, especially a low-key but tension-filled car chase.
Led heavily by Child’s tightly plotted pen, there’s little room left for detailed characterisation and as big screen detective fiction often finds (see The Da Vinci Code, Sherlock Holmes), it’s difficult to convey the methods of the mind that crack the case. Alas, much of Reacher’s case cracking is left to exposition-heavy conversation. Moments of levity are well-timed, though (Helen asking Reacher to put on a shirt as it is too distracting follows McQuarrie’s conspicuous framing of Cruise’s pecs) and there is a scenery-chewing villain, documentary maker Werner Herzog’s The Zec. Reacher is solid and the franchise deserves at least one more go.
Good for: Seeing Cruise play against type (sort of) as the famed anti-hero Reacher
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike | 15 | 130mins | On general release December 26