Tom Cruise’s workmanlike crime caper JACK REACHER (15: Paramount) offers an underwhelming start to a potential franchise.
This brash action yarn sees military cop-gone-maverick Reacher (Cruise) joining forces with hotshot lawyer Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) after a sniper guns down five random victims.
Although the police are convinced they have the culprit in custody, Reacher suspects a cover-up and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake as he tries to find the truth.
Shoot-’em-up cliches and corny dialogue are piled on by writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, whose screenplay for The Usual Suspects won him an Oscar, and this might annoy fans of source writer Lee Child’s darker, more menacing Reacher novels.
Cruise’s straight-faced, steely-eyed portrayal of the hero borders on self-parody and there’s more than a hint of panto villain about Werner Herzog’s shady Russian crime lord.
> Razor-sharp energy and a terrific script make up for fistfuls of cliches in campus comedy PITCH PERFECT (12: Universal).
It’s a lightweight confection that’s like Glee - only bigger, meaner and funnier.
Would-be DJ Beca (Anna Kendrick) becomes embroiled in the cut-throat world of university a cappella singing.
Aubrey (Anna Camp), the uptight soloist of the Barden Bellas, was literally sick with nerves at the previous year’s competition, leading to a humiliating defeat.
But with Beca’s help, the troupe revamps itself to be easier on the eye and ear, despite some stereotypical characters like the vociferous Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson).
And the girls once again pit their vocal cords against male rivals The Treblemakers.
It may be obvious where all this is heading, but Pitch Perfect is fun while the fat lady, and the skinny one, sing.
> Low-budget, Southend-set thriller HARD BOILED SWEETS (15: Universal) leaves a nasty taste in the mouth - rather like aniseed balls.
While this seaside hybrid of American noir and British gangster flick looks glossy, the plot, involving a gang of hard nuts and their molls doing each other in for a briefcase of cash, is predictable.
The title’s a confection cooked up to introduce the characters, who come in the usual flavours - mob boss Jimmy (“the mint imperial”); a pimp called Gerry (“the lime chocolate”); and tart-with-a-heart Porsche (“the sherbert lemon”).
At the lowest ebb, your mind wanders the imaginary sweet shop, trying to think of a better title for a film as bitter and twisted as this.
> Confusion and boredom reign in SILENT HILL: REVELATION (15: Lionsgate), the belated sequel to the 2006 original, which was based on the popular video game.
The now-grown girl from the first film is forced to return to the haunted title town after cult emissarieskidnap her father (Sean Bean).
Convoluted jargon related to the game, hosts of deformed monsters, awkward cameos and endless explanatory scenes fatally clog up what little narrative logic exists.
Bog-standard horror cliches and shoddy CGI don’t help either as the movie lurches from one telegraphed scare to another, although the ever-reliable Malcolm McDowell enjoyably hams it up as an asylum unmate.