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THE BLAND LEADING THE BLAND
In what will be the last film review post of 2012, here’s my review of Jack Reacher, the film adaptation of Lee Child’s successful book series. When it was announced that Tom Cruise would be tackling Child’s loner former military policeman, there was a big furore. Reacher is described by Child as being a man of a certain physical presence while Cruise, er, isn’t. Adapted from Child’s novel, One Shot, about an ex-army sniper who appears to have gone on an arbitrary killing spree, Jack Reacher is packed full of flaws. Before I start, while Child’s Reacher books are fun and very readable, they are still effectively pulp. So a film that successfully translates them onto the big screen didn’t need to be great art. Unfortunately, Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher, as McQuarrie is nominally the director, is a horrible mess. Starting with Cruise, the man has no screen personality here: he is bland, unengaging and unmemorable on screen. The height wouldn’t have been a problem if he brought any personality to Reacher but there is nothing there. And the problems don’t begin or end with Cruise either: McQuarrie is a very perfunctory director. It very much feels like he’s going through the motions. Support in the film isn’t much better. Rosamund Pike as lawyer Helen is just eye candy, emphasised by the number of scenes where we get to see her bending over to show off her cleavage. Werner Herzog as pantomime villain The Zec plays everything for laughs so he’s not remotely sinister either and Robert Duvall, usually a spectacular actor, appears to be sleepwalking here as Cash, the old guy who runs a gun range who decides to help Reacher out. The script doesn’t help either as it is so hackneyed and cliched and because McQuarrie is such a dull director, he can’t bring anything new to proceedings. Jack Reacher is laughably unoriginal, poorly directed and cursed with some of the worst performances I’ve seen this year. I hope that Lee Child was very well paid as it’s unlikely this will spawn a followup. I’m not even sure if it’s worth checking out when it comes to Blu-ray or DVD…

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CRUISE CONTROLLED

Tom Cruise has had a very chequered career in recent years thanks to his association with Scientology. Mission Impossible is a series of films that still appeals to the worldwide cinema audience and I went to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the latest instalment in the series. Cruise returns as agent Ethan Hunt in a story that’s helmed this time by director Brad Bird (The Incredibles). The IMF is shut down after they are implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, forcing them to go on the run to clear their names. Ghost Protocol is being shown in IMAX and sometimes this gives the action scenes impressive impact (the sequence where Hunt has to climb onto the world’s highest building in Dubai is a piece of genuine exciting cinema) but the script is quite weak. Ghost Protocol feels like a film where the production company have come up with a number of impressive setpieces before the script is even written and so it lacks cohesion. The script feels a little old-fashioned and anachronistic, like an Eighties Bond film. Jeremy Renner as Brandt doesn’t ring that true as action man material but Simon Pegg as comic relief Benji does what he always does on screen in that annoyingly likeable fashion. Cruise is rather bland and unengaging but sometimes, like in the opening prison break sequence, he works rather well. The other problem with the film is that, despite Bird as director, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol feels like a star vehicle for Tom Cruise. It passes the time pleasantly enough but feels pretty forgettable. It’s bound to do well at the Christmas box office as it’s pretty review-proof. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a pleasant enough piece of fluff but it doesn’t stay with you once you leave the cinema…