“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher (12A) opens with the murder of five civilians by Iraq War sniper veteran James Barr (Joseph Sikora). When Barr is quickly tracked down by Pittsburgh PD detective Emerson (David Oyelowo), the case against him seems cast-iron, but Barr requests that Emerson and the District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins) send for Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), a former military MP who once investigated Barr for multiple homicides in Iraq. Can Reacher, working for Barr’s defence attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), prove the innocence of a man he knows to be a cold-blooded killer? Adapted from the best-selling novel One Shot by Lee Child, and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Jack Reacher is a thriller that works on a number of levels. A fast-paced tale full of twists and turns, it allows Cruise play a kind of private eye, with the full quota of laconic quips and comebacks we expect from such characters, while action fans will get their kicks from the various fist-fights, car chases and shoot-outs. The story also functions as an exploration of the nature of justice itself, however; neither Reacher nor Helen Rodin are convinced of their client’s innocence, neither are particularly naïve when it comes to the workings of the US justice system, and yet both are adamant that due process must be served on behalf of a man who cannot defend himself. It’s an intriguing blend, and Cruise appears to revel in the role of avenging angel: “I’m not a hero,” he warns one opponent, “I’m a drifter with nothing to lose.” Part Dirty Harry (1971), part Shane (1953), Jack Reacher is a surprisingly dark and complex anti-hero for what is ostensibly a mainstream blockbuster. Expect to see a lot more of him over the coming years. **** - Declan Burke

  This review first appeared in the Irish Examiner.