The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

December 26, 2012

Two holiday treats

Thumbs up for Todd Robinson's THE HARD BOUNCE. This first novel delivers the goods for those who like a multi-layered PI novel. The narrator, Boo Malone, is not a PI. He's partners with Junior McCullough in a blue-collar security business that specializes in providing bouncers and thick-necked security for concerts. But Boo can't resist the task of finding the missing daughter of a city big-wig when he had seen the girl just minutes before being asked to take the job. And the reward for finding the girl is more than money; there's the possibility that Boo could find his sister, lost to him since childhood. But the job takes the tender-hearted heavily tattooed (and just heavy) Boo and Junior into places they'd never been and never wanted to go: kiddie porn and snuff films and ultimately murder. The characters of Boo and Junior are fully-3D. They are unpretentious, very "guy," and their dialogue alone is worth the price of admission to this dark romp.

Author Robinson is well-known around the Internet for his production of Thuglit, which has been such a valuable springboard for so many writers. That makes it hard to say this, but necessary: Time to stop divvying your time, Mr. Robinson, and start focusing on more on your own novels. THE HARD BOUNCE is a grand beginning, but it is just the beginning.

Okay, we Reacher Creatures all had our little hissy fits when Tom Cruise bought the role of JACK REACHER. Cruise has managed to make himself so unpopular in so many ways and that hardly helped win any of us over. But what should not be forgotten (yes, I forgot it myself) in all the hoo-ha is that Cruise can act, and his acting chops are good enough here to make up for the lack of inches and brawn that define the written Reacher. Where the movie falls down is in casting the wooden-faced Rosamund Pike opposite Cruise. There is no chemistry between the two (try naming a film where Pike has had chemistry with anybody) so we can only thank the screenwriter for not forcing a sex scene on the viewers. Pike often sounds like she's rushing her dialogue to keep up with Reacher's snappy one-liners. Her most believable moment comes when she urges Reacher to "put on a shirt." That may be due to Cruise's body now showing its 50 years and the entire audience also urging him to "put on a shirt." And it's no surprise that Robert Duvall steals every scene he's in. The car-chase scene is to be admired for looking more like BULLITT than THE BOURNE LEGACY. The script strays some from the book, of course, but not too much. Cruise's Reacher isn't quite the Reacher of the books, of course, but he's not too far off. I think this film lays a solid basis for a Reacher film franchise.