Ex-military investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise, Mission:Impossible Ghost Protocol
) leaps off the pages of Lee Child's bestselling novel and onto the big screen in the explosive thriller that critics are calling "a superior thriller*". When five people are gunned down and all the evidence points to someone who swears he's innocent, only one man has the skills to take the true criminals out. The law has limits, but Jack Reacher doesn't in this full-throttle action smash hit.
When you hire Tom Cruise to be in your Tom Cruise movie, there's never a question that you're going to get your money's worth. The movie may not be worth the expense, but as a professional who delivers 100 percent 100 percent of the time, Cruise will give the proceedings his undivided attention. In Jack Reacher
Cruise plays the title character with complete gusto, and even though it ends up a pretty run-of-the-mill crime drama, his presence and commitment elevates this violent, bloody, and attractively atmospheric movie to the level of, well, a reliably pleasurable Tom Cruise experience. Jack Reacher is the protagonist in a series of popular novels by Lee Child. There was some sniping among fans that Cruise bears no resemblance to Child's Reacher, a burly, shadowy former army policeman who has moved into the private investigator business--but mostly for Cruise himself. No matter; as a leading man, Cruise is always going to be himself anyway, so the ghostlike qualities built in to his character take on their own mythical qualities that allow both Cruise and Reacher to get the job done. In a somewhat unsettling opening sequence that shows a lone gunman killing a handful of seemingly random people at a public park, the mystery is born and Reacher materialises to help the police sort things out. Again seemingly, the killer has been positively identified and apprehended and is dead-to-rights guilty. But this former army sniper asks for Jack Reacher to suss out the deeper crazy truth. Reacher and the alleged gunman have a history that dates back to their military service when Reacher investigated him for heinously murdering civilians during a psychotic break, a crime that he really did commit, but for which he went unpunished due to one of those pesky legal technicalities. Nevertheless, Reacher's goal is justice, and his investigative instincts tell him this new crime points in an entirely different direction. There are several sequences that play brilliantly in the context of Reacher's skill as a killing machine on his own. One takes place in the close confines of a tiny hallway and bathroom where Reacher faces down a posse of thugs armed with guns and a baseball bat, besting them all in a flurry of acrobatic brutality. He also single-handedly beats up a gang of toughs in the alley behind a bar. But the movie's high point is an excellent chase scene between two roaring muscle cars on the dark streets of Pittsburgh (the city itself plays a great role throughout), with Cruise clearly and expertly handling the wheel himself. Though somewhat convoluted, the plot is well conceived and the large cast supports Cruise's commanding presence nicely. Richard Jenkins and Robert Duvall do their usual excellent work, though it is Werner Herzog as a wildly over-the-top villain who makes things positively gleeful in his few scenes. Of course it always comes back to Tom Cruise and his dedication to the movie's greater good that makes Jack Reacher
so enjoyable, even when its reach exceeds its grasp. --Ted Fry