Deducing and punching his way through the film like a small, vicious Sherlock Holmes, Cruise, it seems obligatory to point out, physically resembles the literary Jack Reacher like Woody Allen resembles the literary James Bond. But for all the pre-release hoo-ha surrounding the dissonance between author Lee Child's man-mountain and Cruise's buff hobbit, Jack Reacher's biggest problem is not its tiny star but its massive rubbishness.
With a plot that must have seemed ropey even in 2005 when the book was published, Jack Reacher trundles from one unspectacular development to another with all the wit and innovation of a straight-to-video flick found in a bargain bin in ye olde Woolworths. Instead of the force of nature found in Child's pulp fiction, the movie Reacher is a character-free character: Ethan Hunt without the sidekicks; James Bond without the sophistication; Jason Bourne without the splintered memory. He's almost as dull as The Bourne Legacy's Aaron Cross, the poor bastard. Meanwhile Werner Herzog (interesting casting only to the geekcore audience) channels the worst of the eighties' generic Euro-baddies, standing - or, when needs must, sitting - in the shadows comically muttering inconsequential 'zogwash.
In its meagre defence, Jack Reacher at least doesn't take itself too seriously, and Robert Duvall pops by to drop off a bag of much-needed class, but there's precious little else to recommend it. Capping off proceedings with a lacklustre fight ironically reminiscent of Lethal Weapon (a film which feels fresh as a daisy in comparison) and an uncomfortably vicious final act of violence from our hero (the bad taste of which is not washed away by a wish-fulfilling epilogue), Jack Reacher may well mark the point at which Tom Cruise is finally too old for this shit. His pecs may be in bizarrely fine fettle but his judgement is all over the place, and the question now is not whether or not he looks the part but whether he should be playing these parts at all.