David D. is a dear friend of mine. He's a Chicago cop and a foodie. He is also 6'5" and about 290 pounds; he towers over the average Joe and makes anyone under five feet nine inches look like a munchkin. We have an ongoing joke about him speaking in his best Schwarzenegger voice addressing everyone else as "Puny Man".


Tom Cruise is five feet seven inches tall; when he puts lifts in his shoes he can get to almost 5'9". He is generally portrayed as being much taller than he is. Matt Damon and Robert DeNiro are both 5'10. Brad Pit is 5'11". Leo DiCaprio is 6'. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is 6'4". Anyway, every time I watch a Tom Cruise film, I imagine my hulking friend Dave stepping into the scene and squishing the actor in the ultimate action scene.


This is not a commentary about Tom's stature, after all his films have grossed about $3,587,201,845 or $99 million bucks per film. Hollywood studios love him because audiences like watching him in action films giving what they think are believable performances.

Actually, the most interesting thing about Cruise' action films is that the studios can find enough cast members short enough to combat in film. Trust me, there will never, ever be a Tom Cruise/Dwayne Johnson film. Ever!


His latest film, "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" is yet another action romp in the vein of his "Mission Impossible" films; the sequel to 2012's "Jack Reacher" which managed to gross $218,340,595 on a $60 million production budget. This sequel was inevitable, even if director Ed Zwick ("Blood Diamond", "Defiance", "The Last Samurai", "Glory", "Legends of the Fall") couldn't come up with a unique story. But that wasn't his job. His job was to make Tom Cruise seem bigger, as Jack Reacher is described by novelist Lee Child in the book series. [Note: Reacher is described as being 6 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 210250 pounds.]


Anyway, this time, Reacher is out to clear his dear, beautiful military friend Turner (Cobie Smulders) of charges of espionage and treason. This is after he dispatches a few dozen wrong doers in the onset of the film - ala "Mission Impossible".


In the time it takes to say "I want my money back", you will have figured out who the bad guy is and how many of the bad guys would be dispatched by Reacher. The only other amusing notion is Reacher possibly having an unknown daughter (Danika Yarosh) with whom he must protect ala Liam Neeson's "Taken" series. I mention this because Liam Neeson is 6'4".


It is widely accepted that Tom Cruise is miscast as Jack Reacher - Dwayne Johnson would be a better fit - but the fact remains that Cruise comes across well as a choreo-

graphed tough guy and audiences love him. But the film is far from accomplished. It is shallow and under developed. Period.


"Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" is a poorly developed actioner in which the only intriguing part is how director Edward Zwick found that many short guys for Tom Cruise to beat up. It does provide plenty of improbable fight scenes that should tickle Cruise fans, but little else.   -- GEOFF BURTON