Jack ReacherDirector: Christopher McQuarrie, Paramount Pictures, Rated M, 130 mins
Mission Impossible superstar Tom Cruise takes on the lead role of Jack Reacher, a tough vigilante type (and former military policeman) with a reputation of meting out his own kind of justice.
This thrilling but somewhat violent drama is from relatively new director Christopher McQuarrie who has adapted crime writer Lee Child’s novel One Shot to the big screen after earlier winning an Oscar for his screenwriting efforts on The Usual Suspects.
When a trained military sniper randomly shoots five innocent victims as seen in the opening scenes, resulting in the arrest of ex-militia man James Barr (Joseph Sikora - Safe) the person Barr asks for is Jack Reacher who happens to turn up just as District Attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins - Killing Them Softly) calls out his name.
Reacher soon finds himself acting as an investigator for Rodin’s daughter Helen (Rosamund Pike - Wrath of the Titans), Barr’s defence attorney.
After a series of twists and turns that are orchestrated by criminal heavyweight “The Zec” (played by former German director Werner Herzog - Rescue Dawn) Reacher finally gets the chance to dish out his brand of justice to those that he sees deserving of such a hideous crime (similar to Charles Bronson’s character in Death Wish ) - and then disappears.
Cruise’s cool character is particularly entertaining, especially his action sequences, and there is an obvious chemistry with his co-star Pike as they gather the evidence that ultimately uncovers an unscrupulous conspiracy.
Besides the two lead actors there is the wonderful but brief performance by Godfather star Robert Duvall, a veteran owner of a shooting-range who provides Reacher with much needed help when all guns are blazing.
Even though this movie might not be a great performance from Cruise (as in Ghost Protocol) his lethal portrayal of Jack Reacherstill makes it an enjoyable and “en-reaching” experience.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
QuartetDirector: Dustin Hoffman, BBC Films, Rated M, 98 mins
Legendary actor Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man) makes his directorial debut with his delightful movie about ageing and retirement focusing especially on the intertwining relationships between four main characters in a luxurious retirement home for retired musicians.
Three of the characters are former opera singers that include the rather mundane Reg (Tom Courteney - The Golden Compass), the funny but flirtatious Wilf (Billy Connolly - Gulliver’s Travels) and the forgetful Cissy (Pauline Collins - Shirley Valentine), with the fourth being Jean (Maggie Smith - Harry Potter) a world-renowned diva and former wife of Reg who initially refuses to talk to her after she broke his heart years earlier.
The story begins with the residents of the retirement house planning a gala performance to raise funds for the continued running of their home under the guidance of grouchy gala director Cedric (Michael Gambon - Harry Potter), using as their main act the above four characters performing the famed quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto.
For his first movie Hoffman has assembled an interesting cast of older actors to portray his characters in Ronald Harwood’s screenplay adaptation of his 1999 play of the same name, with the exception being the young but beautiful blonde Sheridan Smith (Hysteria) who plays the head of the retirement home as well as the object of Wilf’s wild affection.
The simple and slow-paced storyline is only slightly enhanced by the performances of Smith, Courteney and Collins with Connolly providing most of the comic relief amid some of the poignant scenes shared by Smith and Courteney.
Despite the movie having a particular appeal to a certain age demographic it is also worth contemplating whether the concept of a retirement home for musicians should be extended to include journalists even a home for certain retired politicians.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
The Bourne LegacyDirector: Tony Gilroy, Universal Pictures, Rated M, 135 mins
Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter for the three Bournemovies (2002-07) took on the director’s role with his creation of a Bourne like character that has The Avengers Jeremy Renner playing Aaron Cross, replacing the charismatic Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.
In some respects the opening scenes in The Bourne Legacy suggest a continuation in the hunt for Bourne following the climactic conclusion in The Bourne Ultimatum with Bourne (Matt Damon) appearing on news bulletins.
In Gilroy’s resurrected rendition of the franchise he opens the chapter on a new covert operative (Cross) on the run who is being hunted in the snow-laden forest of Alaska.
This time another secret government agency headed by Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is out to shut down both Treadstone (involving Bourne) and Outcome (connected to Cross) before their clandestine activities are fully exposed.
Those activities include assassinating Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) a scientist whom Cross manages to rescue in dramatic circumstances and needs in order to maintain his super-performing abilities through the special drugs that she has provided him - requiring both to travel to the supply plant in Manila.
In his attempt to provide a new face to thefranchise, Gilroy has been unable to replicate much of the appeal in the earlier movies including having Jenner replace Damon whose compelling character portrayal remains a major highlight of the highly successful series.
At the same time this does not detract from the engaging storyline and exhilarating performances of Jenner and Weisz or even Norton.
The Bourne Legacy is being released in both Blu-ray and DVD editions featuring lots of great action sequences and plenty of exciting extras.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
To find out more about Victor Rebikoff click here.