MOVIES - Jack Reacher, Midnight's Children

JACK REACHER (12A)

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Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher
Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher

FANS of the Lee Child novels which brought us the character of Jack Reacher are apparently up in arms because he's a massive, hulking former soldier turned drifter.

Reacher here is played by the distinctly non-massive Tom Cruise, but that really isn't a problem unless you're totally hung up on the height thing, because Cruise proves once again that he's a movie star of the highest order.

In a coldly terrifying opening, a gunman takes out random passers-by from a distance with a high powered rifle.

An arrest is made, with Richard Jenkins as the DA looking to put the guy away and Rosamund Pike as his daughter, a defence lawyer who hires Reacher as an investigator to find out the truth.

This first adaptation of Child's books is being sold as some sort of revenge thriller in the style of Taken, when in fact it's much more of a traditional police procedural, albeit a highly compelling one.

Reacher is a man of action though, and capable of beating up anyone who crosses his path, which he does frequently.

Everything about it screams ridiculousness, and luckily it knows it, otherwise the would-be slick banter and clunky exposition would be too hard to swallow with a straight face.

Reacher's past gets explained to us in a way that would be moronic if it weren't so tongue in cheek, but it could sometimes do with an injection of pace or a complete commitment to luridness to match its silliness.

Werner Herzog of all people turns up as the bad guy heading the conspiracy, and he adds ripeness.Cruise is magnetic, and Pike is terrible, all making for a hugely enjoyable slice of pulp.

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Running time: 130 mins

MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN (12A)

SALMAN Rushdie adapts this sprawling drama from his own acclaimed novel, a sweeping multi-generational saga and family drama featuring loads of characters, none of them memorable or distinct.

The central figure is Saleem, born as India gains independence in 1947, and swept along by the turbulent events of partition and sectarian violence.

But there's far too much backstory for us to invest in Saleem, with diversions to his grandfather years before, and how he met his grandmother, and the magical realism elements proving frustratingly vague.

A soapy plot is given supposed legitimacy by Rushdie's political aspirations, but is much too rambling and uninvolving to succeed, drifting on inertly, unburdened by focus and growing increasingly stuffy and interminable.

Director: Deepa Mehta

Running time: 146 mins

Families

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