Jack Reacher


Viewed – 28 May 2013  Blu-ray

Based on the novels by best-selling author Lee Child, this intelligent and thrilling movie casts Tom Cruise as the eponymous former Military Police Officer turned drifter who gets involved in a mystery surrounding a shooting incident in Chicago.  Befriending a lawyer (Rosamund Pike) charged with defending the man accused of the murder of 5 innocent people, Reacher is soon the target of a ruthless organisation.

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Directed confidently and with no end of style by Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun) and along with good chemistry between Cruise and Pike, this proved very entertaining.  Villainous fodder was mostly clichéd but for Werner Herzog’s very creepy turn, and at times tough-talking Cruise proved slightly unconvincing considering his rather ageing, out-of-shape appearance.  Thankfully a killer car chase, a very sexy Rosamund Pike and a nice twisty-turny plot peppered with sharp dialogue, meant such short comings were easy to overlook.  A cameo by screen legend Robert Duvall was also a lot of fun.

Yet I couldn’t ignore the feeling the material seemed beneath an actor of Cruise’s caliber, often imagining someone like Tom Berringer in the role.  Also from the off, where this one was going was fairly predictable – but the journey there was at least well acted, exciting in parts and looked the business throughout.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

To Kill A Mockingbird


Viewed – 04 January 2013  Blu-ray

50th Anniversary Edition

I really thought I had seen this one.  A story of deep south racial tension following the accusation of a black man of raping a white woman, with screen legend Gregory Peck as Lawyer Atticus Finch, who also happens to be a single father to his boisterous two children, Jim and Scout.  The movie is seen mostly through the eyes of these two children, as they play in the neighbourhood, are scared of the stories emanating from one of the neighbours houses, and witness the threat of violence as the case of the accused man begins to stir up the locals.

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Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel and boasting a commanding, powerful performance from Peck, nabbing him a much deserved Oscar in the process, this is gritty but also utterly absorbing stuff.  The child actors playing Peck’s children also impress, especially Mary Badham as Scout.  Compared to today’s standards, its lighter and doesn’t go to the dark lengths it hints at, but the subject is still hard-hitting and relevant.  The direction of Robert Mulligan is both assured and classy (with a very contemporary title sequence for its time), and aided by a fitting score by veteran Elmer Bernstein this all comes together to create a movie that transcends time and era, making it one of those classic movies actually deserving of such a title.  See if you can recognise a young Robert Duvall as the movie’s phantom neighbour ‘Boo Radley’.

The Blu-ray is impressive stuff.  The image is in excellent condition and really shines, the black & white photography packed with detail and depth, and I enjoyed it a great deal.  The sound, remixed in 5.1 is also effective if not quite as jaw-dropping.  Extras consist of two feature-length documentaries, first focusing on Gregory Peck, the next on the movie’s legacy.  Add to this archive footage, interviews, a trailer, Pecks’s Oscar acceptance speech as well as a commentary by the director and producer – and this all makes for a superb package.

Verdict:

(the movie)  5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5