Jack Reacher is an elusive crime-fighter, an ex-military cop who, we learn, was reprimanded for breaking the rules. In civilian life he’s made himself a ghost, impossible to find and just as difficult to trace. But when a sniper who killed six innocent people in Pittsburgh pleads with his lawyer to “Get Jack Reacher” and the mystery man suddenly shows up, unbidden, you recognize that you’re dealing with a character who is larger than life.
Cruise may not be six-feet-two, but he’s believable as a tough guy who can take down brawny opponents in a street fight. He’s also smart enough to realize when a situation is too good to be true. One cannot say the same for the crusading attorney played by Rosamund Pike, a good actress whose actions and reactions add to the movie’s cheese factor—and whose beauty is almost distracting at times. Robert Duvall turns up toward the climax of the story as a good ol’ boy who becomes the hero’s unlikely ally. He may not be terribly believable, but at least he’s fun to watch.
McQuarrie seems content to allow his lengthy action thriller to hopscotch from a suspense scene to a moment of unexpected comedy and back again. There is one nail-biting car chase, inventively staged and cut, and strikingly photographed by Caleb Deschanel. And thereare some good laughs, some of them intentional. Jack Reacher is a loose cannon of a movie, entertaining overall if wildly inconsistent.
In an unfortunate reminder of real life, the movie opens with a sniper mowing down innocent people. Once you get past that sequence, the film’s escapist tone takes us away from reality as so many Hollywood movies do. Thank goodness for that.