The verdict: Jack Reacher 2, Never Go Back

When an email about the new Rack Reacher movie went around the office one colleague responded simply with this screenshot.
tomThis quick-witted fellow has a point and he wasn’t the first to make it. Physically Tom Cruise is as far from Reacher as you can really get, and for a series that plays so heavily on the almost abnormal height and bulk of its hero, the choice of Tom Cruise – felt some, including me – was cheeky to the extreme even given his acting chops.
I was crushingly disappointed by the first movie. It wasn’t Cruise’s fault, even. Despite his physically not fitting the bill I believe he’s a good enough actor to make up for it with charisma and subtlety. But there was nothing subtle or charismatic about the first film, even remaining open-minded about film adaptations of books in general.
It was lacklustre and completely failed to communicate to a new audience just why Jack Reacher is a juggernaut in crime fiction, an iconic and truly original hero. It also failed to capitalise on the many opportunities for innovative storytelling that the books invite – his quirky inner dialogue, internal clock, travelling kit, deductive reasoning in fight scenes and in detection. All these could have been portrayed with a little originality – think some of the innovations used in the recent Sherlock Holmes series – but instead we got a generic action flick no different from any other.
This time, my expectations were low, but despite this die-hard Lee Child fan guarding her emotions jealously this time round, I still hoped. And I got excited.
So when I turned to the Ministry on my way out and exclaimed, “I didn’t hate it!” you will appreciate how big that was. It was a definite improvement on the first. Having said that, there’s still some way to go before this franchise would become what I wish it would be.
The makers had a bit of a stab this time round at some creative representation of Reacher’s thought processes, though it was a bit inconsistent and half-heartedly done with only a couple of examples.
The ‘maybe daughter’ was well cast, with Danika Yarosh playing Samantha Dayton, as was Cobie Saunders (Robin from How I met Your Mother) as Major Susan Turner.
Some of the liberties taken with the storyline were a bit eye-opening, though to be expected. The fight scenes were too filled with loud overdone THWACK sound effects and back-and-forth to be adequate Reacher fights in which Reacher just really is supposed to annihilate each opponent and remain largely unchallenged. I was a disappointed by the airplane toilet fight scene which should have been a damn good one, and people survived an astonishing number of what should have been fatal head injuries. In other words, it was a completely standard action movie, when it could have been so much more.
But I was happy overall with the improvement on the first – at least there was a little more well-placed humour in this – and I was thankful they didn’t waste time on sex scenes. Plus, Lee Child does a quick cameo as a policeman! So I settled down to watch the second half quite happily. I look forward to the third. Things can only get better. Right?

Perth’s urban sprawl threatens endangered banksia woodlands

Banksia at Bold Park, one of the areas of remnant woodland.  Photo: Rob Davis

Banksia at Bold Park, one of the areas of remnant woodland. Photo: Rob Davis

The banksia woodlands of Perth’s Swan Coastal Plain have just been declared endangered by the federal government – but they’re right on top of some prime development land.

Read more at WAtoday.

Amnesia: the ‘new’ Peter Carey book

Peter Carey’s easily one of my top five authors and on my fantasy dinner party list, so of course I leapt straight on to his new book. Well, I meant to.

Now that I’ve finally got round to it I realise that Amnesia was published in 2012, so shame on me. But it’s certainly not lost any of its potency during its patient wait for me on the shelves of the recently opened City of Perth Library (beautiful and well worth a visit).

Peter Carey's Amnesia

Disgraced political journalist Felix Moore, unemployed after a highly public defamation conviction, is commissioned by a shady but powerful ally to write a biography of – and thereby potentially gain public sympathy for – young Australian hacker Gaby Bailleux, whose parents he knew in their younger days.

She faces extradition to America for infiltrating prison systems there and at home and Moore is promised access to her in her hideout – but the access never eventuates. Moore, held by shadowy figures of the resistance movement in remote locations for his own ‘protection’, is forced into a dreamlike attempt to grasp his elusive subject, and pin her inner life to paper, through the infuriatingly scant and subjective secondary materials she sees fit to provide.

He writes her life story, each page whisked away for an editing process completely beyond his control. He is unable to separate her from the backdrop of the society into which she was born – one whose politics is forever troubled by its murky relationship with America, from Vietnam War-era machinations between the CIA and Australian government until the present.

It sounds complex, and it is. This plot is not for the faint-hearted, and I confess to a rather foggy understanding at times. It requires a focus beyond the level neede for your average page-turner or blog post; perhaps that’s why it’s taken me four years to read it.

But that’s not to say it’s boring. Its ambitious plot reflects a leap for Carey into a heady new direction for his style, in which he crafts a modern thriller that still bears the Carey hallmarks. His dialogue is immediate and unhampered by quotation marks, a feature of much of his writing, which adds to the sense of surreal displacement experienced by his narrator. It’s a part of his style that has been described as fabulism, in which a sense of the fantastic is blended with a realistically reported narrative. In fact, the whole book embodies this concept, in a sense – the story of the objective political reporter who suddenly finds himself flung down the rabbit hole.

Above all, the novel retains the sublime power of description I love Carey for, a power so great it really goes beyond description, in which words do not seem to go through your brain for translation into pictures and feelings, but instead seem to cut straight into your soul.

Amnesia, to be truthful, did not grab me by the heart and the imagination in quite the same unforgettable way his Oscar and Lucinda, or The True History of the Kelly Gang, did.

But it did reaffirm my belief that Carey is one of the world’s greatest living novelists. In it I could see the expertise that has built over the decades and appears to still be growing. A privilege to read.


Government approves wetland bulldozing based on environmental study of wrong lot

While the development is planned for both Carters and Skipper's, the environmental study was done on Skippers, a bare patch of earth.

While the development is planned for both Carters and Skipper’s, the environmental study was done on Skippers, a bare patch of earth.

Approvals for a controversial development at an ecologically significant site in Bayswater were based on incomplete environmental assessments, documents have revealed.

Read more at WAtoday.

Mt Lawley ‘church steeple’ tree felled for private development

A local's hopeless protest.  Photo: Supplied

A local’s hopeless protest. Photo: Supplied

A towering Mt Lawley tree described by the local heritage society as a ‘church steeple’ in the landscape has got the chop, as its trunk grew slightly over the council boundary and on to a private development site.

Read more at WAtoday.


‘Blinding lasers in rock wallabies’ faces!’ scientist urges tourist boycott


Mr Carter wants the event shifted - if not, boycotted.  Photo: Mark Carter

“Rock wallabies have young in their pouches and some are carrying embryos. It is well known that if these animals get distressed they can eject joeys from the pouch and the risk of death for those is high.” Photo: Mark Carter


A tourist show shooting industrial-strength laser beams into a stretch of cliffs in the Northern Territory is an act of animal cruelty that will inflict distress, and potentially physical damage, on endangered wallabies, a local scientist says.

Read more at WAtoday.