Jack Reacher is based on the character from a popular series of books by Lee Child. There are 17 books in total. The character is 6’5” tall and weighs between 210 and 250 pounds. Playing Jack Reacher in this film is Tom Cruise who stands at 5’7”. Loyal readers had a problem with the casting at first, but if anyone knows how to play a character like this it’s Tom Cruise. We’ve seen him kick ass in movies like Mission: Impossible and he’s the kind of guy who always incorporates intelligence into the action. He’s best at playing trained, highly skilled experts at their craft and that’s exactly what Reacher is.
What’s different about this character is that he avoids using standard day-to-day devices that everyone else uses. He has no phone. He doesn’t own a car. He pays for everything in cash. This is why he’s impossible to find. He’s a ghost, living completely off the grid. As the film demonstrates, he can’t be found unless he wants to be. So when a former army sniper who he used to work with is accused of killing 5 random people, Reacher shows up to investigate. He not only has military skills, he has the analytical skills of a detective as well. It’s his intellect that makes Jack Reacher such an interesting character and keeps this from being a standard action movie. It rises above others in that we get to see the main character help solve many problems while also beating up the bad guys in a fun way. This guy is smarter than James Bond.
There’s a pretty authentic-looking car chase which seems grittier than most as well. And as usual, Cruise did all his own stunt driving. None of the other actors stand out too much, though that could be because of Cruise’s dominant screen presence. Of course he gets all the cool one-liners and the entertaining fight scenes. It’s a bit unfortunate that the last 20 minutes or so delve into a more typical action-movie climax which takes away from what’s ultimately a smart thriller (films like District 9 and Avatar are guilty of this too). But the mystery involving the sniper does come to a satisfying conclusion. All in all, this is probably the best Tom Cruise film in at least the past 5 years.