So, Jack Reacher is a thing. Not a thing I’m aware of, but one of those roles, like Anne Rice’s Lestat, that people care about and are pretty sure that Tom Cruise can’t do. Tom Cruise is kind of the honey badger of actors: He does what he wants.
And for the most part, from what I can tell about this Reacher character, he does pretty well. He doesn’t have the physical stature, of course, so if you’ve read the books, you might have a hard time dealing with that.
But he’s got the swag, so if you haven’t read the books, there’s really only one place (maybe two) where you’re likely to be nonplussed. Like when the cops are looking for suspects and ask a motel clerk which guest looks like they could kill a woman with one blow, there’s a situation where being 6’5" and well over 200 pounds would help.
Cruise has got the attitude but he is pretty, fine-featured and always kind of decent seeming. (None of which would necessarily rule out you killing someone with one blow, but visual media require visual proof, if that makes sense.)
It’s not fatal (at least not for us), and basically, what we have here is a competent little action-mystery flick. A sniper who’s not a real good guy is framed for shooting a bunch of people at random, beaten nearly to death by a bunch of cons (while cops look the other way), and as he slips into a coma tells his lawyer (Rosamund Pike) to “Get Jack Reacher”.
But you can’t get Jack Reacher. He has to get you. (Obviously he does, or we’d have no picture.) Yeah, he’s a bad-ass with a very strong sense of ethics that doesn’t always comport with The Law.
Despite this, it’s actually pretty good. Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie (writer of Usual Suspects, writer/director of Way of the Gun) keeps things fast-paced (but not frantic) and the story breaks enough of the usual tropes to keep it fresh.
Richard Jenkins is the shifty D.A. Robert Duvall plays a gun range owner. Werner Herzog is the evil mastermind who ate his own fingers.
Solid. Won’t blow you away.
Bonus conversation on the way home:
“Tom Cruise is older than I am.”