As you may know, I've spent the last six months either deep inside my writing cave, finishing my next novel ... or on the road, travelling to England, Wales, France, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Mudgee, St Albans, Melbourne ...
My husband and I have been the proverbial ships-in-the-night.
So when Paramount Pictures & Penguin Random House very kindly invited me along to see a preview of the new Jack Reacher movie, I was very excited.
Can I bring my hubby? I asked. Thinking: Date Night!
They said yes, and so we scrubbed up and went along to the Paramount offices in Pyrmont where they have a very dinky little movie theatre. We had a couple of glasses of wine and settled in to watch.
Action thrillers are my very favourite type of movie. I did not see the first Jack Reacher movie, and I've never read one of the Lee Child books before, and so I was not quite sure what to expect, apart from Tom Cruise, a gorgeous kick-arse girl, fight scenes, chase scenes, and maybe an explosion or two.
And that's exactly what I got.
Tom Cruise was great. His character was intense, moody, yet with hints of vulnerability and loneliness. I've heard that Jack Reacher fans were unhappy with him in the role, because apparently in the book, the man is a big hulking kind of a guy. Not having those expectations, I was very happy watching Tom for a few hours. He has a lot of charisma, and throws himself into whatever he's doing with everything he's got. The fight scenes were ferocious. I amused everyone around me by hiding my face in my husband's arm a few times.
I also loved seeing Cobie Smulders playing the role of the gorgeous yet tough major, falsely accused of treason. I watched her for years in 'How I Met Your Mother', and it's so great seeing her getting such a meaty role.
Although she's playing second fiddle to Tom, and so is rescued by him and, as she says at one point, patronised by him, she was still a strong character and ran just as fast and punched just as hard. We don't get to see much of her back story, so she remains one-dimensional, but it's a very enjoyable one-dimension.
The bad guys were suitably bad, and the movie moved along so fast there's not much time to stop and worry about some of the implausibilities in the plot.
One of these implausibilities is, without a doubt, the addition of Sam, the 15-year old girl who may or not be Jack Reacher's daughter.
Played by Danika Yarosh, she too was drawn in broad brushstrokes - sweet-faced but sassy, tough but vulnerable, super-smart yet underprivileged, with a good heart but sneak-thief fingers - yet she raised the stakes for Jack and for the audience, and helped us see Jack's softer side.
I'd have liked a bit more romance, and a little more of a connection between Jack Reacher, ex-major, and Major Susan Turner to explain why he got himself so involved in her business having never met her before ... but it seems that Jack Reacher being lonely and on his own, travelling the world and righting wrongs, is what the character is all about and too much sappiness would undermine that rough-hewn independence of his.
Though, mind you, Tom allowing his character Jack to be beaten up, to be wrong, to be hurt, to show his weariness and loneliness, and yes, even his ageing, were the best parts of the movie for me. It made the character and the situation just that little bit more real ... which I like in a good thriller.
So, all in all, I enjoyed it hugely.
It's actually one of the best thrillers I've watched for a while, because - while the plot is undeniably slight - it had a lot of heart and two great female actors were given a whole lot of screen time in a genre that often fails in this area. And Major Susan Turner kept her clothes on (much to my husband's disappointment).