Tom Cruise returns to fighting form in Jack Reacher. The actor channels Sherlock Holmes and Jason Bourne to bring the character to life. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), Reacher is a grounded thriller with a touch of superhero logic.

The Players:

  • Director: Christopher McQuarrie
  • Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Lee Child (book)
  • Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Vladimir Sizov, Michael Raymond-James
  • Cinematography by: Caleb Deschanel
  • Original Music by: Joe Kraemer

The Plot:

Based on Lee Child’s novel One Shot, Jack Reacher leaps to the big screen. After five people are killed in a random shooting, all evidence points to a former military sniper. But instead of council, the suspect asks for Reacher (Cruise). Having served with him, Reacher’s convinced he’s guilty. Yet, information suggesting foul play begins to surface. He, along with the D.A.’s daughter Helen (Pike), discover they have the wrong guy. The real killer’s still on the loose.

The Good:

  • Tom Cruise: Cruise is in top form as the film’s title character. Reacher’s a more subdued Ethan Hunt (from the Mission: Impossible series), who’s extremely observant, resourceful and deadly. Because Cruise has made a career of playing larger than life heroes, he’s able to slip into the role with ease. What he lacks in height (in the book Reacher’s 6’5), he makes up for with charisma.
  • Car Chase: The best sequence in the film features a multi-car chase. On paper, it could have been a complicated mess, but McQuarrie’s direction is clear. It’s not an action scene for the sake of being an action scene. Not only is it entertaining to watch, but it pushes us towards a major reveal in the story.
  • Humor: Who knew Jack Reacher was so hilarious? The character’s wry wit and stern delivery is the source of many laughs. His view of the world is straight to the point. No frills, no song and dance. Reacher’s an outsider, and his intricacies make him stand out.

The So-So:

  • Underused actors: Jack Reacher has a stellar supporting cast including Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins and Oscar-winner Robert Duvall. To be fair, Duvall’s role is short but extremely fun. The legendary actor makes the most of his screentime and like Cruise brings some serious laughs. Jenkins on the other hand, is there one minute and gone the next. As the career-driven D.A. you never get a sense of the character. It’s such a shame because Jenkins is an acting powerhouse.
  • Subject Matter: Jack Reacher is the victim of bad timing. The film has the unfortunate luck of hitting theaters a week after the Newtown, Conn., school killings. The massacre, which left nearly 30 people dead (mostly children) is still fresh in our minds. Therefore, Reacher’s subject matter may be uneasy for some to watch. The film’s opening, which features a random shooter, hits a little too close to home.

The Bad:

  • Rosamund Pike/Helen: No offense to Ms. Pike. We enjoyed seeing the Bond Girl take on a more substantial role. But her portrayal of a stressed-out lawyer could veer into parody. Helen’s always one-step behind in the investigation and when Reacher clues her in, she turns into a wide-eyed child. For the daughter of a record-setting D.A., she lets a lot of things fall through the cracks.

Overall:

Jack Reacher is a serviceable thriller. It’s not perfect, but it is enjoyable. If you’d like to spend two hours watching Cruise outsmart, and outmaneuver everyone, this is your ticket.

The Rating: 7/10

Jack Reacher opens in theaters Friday, December 21.

Photo Gallery:

Trailer:

Will you be seeing Jack Reacher this weekend?