IT’S too bad Jack Reacher didn’t really take at the box-office. Tom Cruise’s most enjoyable film for several years could have made for an interesting franchise thanks to a character that plays to his hyper-present, laser-focused, movie star strengths.
True, his physical attributes fell short of the mark, but while the much remarked-upon height difference between the 5ft 7in Cruise and the eponymous 6ft 5in hero of Lee Child’s novels horrified Reacher’s literary fanbase, in movie terms, Cruise remains a good casting choice. In lieu of having an actor who matches the physical description, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun) simply capitalises on Cruise’s larger-than-life persona so that when the character walks into a police station, a lawyer’s office or a bar, he still turns heads because he looks and acts like, well, Tom Cruise. That innate Cruise-ness helps make all the lone wolf tropes inherent in the character much more palatable too; it’s easy to buy into the fact that he’s an ex-military cop living off the grid because such a ridiculous, well-worn concept can no longer be played wholly straight. The film – based on Child’s novel One Shot – sees McQuarrie and Cruise having fun with the concept as Reacher (Cruise) is called upon to get to the bottom of killing spree in which the gunman in custody may well be innocent. Adding extra layers of barminess is Grizzly Man director Werner Herzog. Cast as the bad guy, he imbues his line readings with the same strange, philosophical tone-of-voice he uses in his wondrous documentaries, making everything his finger-chewing, cloudy-eyed weirdo says in the film have the awful ring of truth to it – no matter how ludicrously conceived his character’s back story is.
Lords of Salem
To date, Rob Zombie’s original horror films (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects) have tended towards the uber-grizzly, Grindhouse-end of the horror spectrum. Lords of Salem seems almost respectable by comparison – or as respectable as a satanic panic movie in which a coven is summoned by a piece of heavy metal music can be. Zombie is let down by his decision to cast his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, in the lead. She just can’t make the potentially interesting story of a DJ who starts having debilitating hallucinations after being exposed to a mysterious album in any way compelling.
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