Jack Reacher movie review: Cruise reaches for justice

Based on the Lee Child novel One Shot, this action flick has twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the very end. In superior mental and physical shape, Tom Cruise still delivers as an action hero. Occasionally over the top, the movie works because it never takes itself too seriously.

Jack Reacher

3.5 Stars: Perfect for suspense-lovers

The opening scene is chilling. A sniper sets his sights on seemingly random people in a Philadelphia park, then kills five of them. A sixth bullet lands in a snow-cone fountain.

District attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) and his assistant Emerson (David Oyelowo) claim to have found the guilty gunman, ex-military sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora). But Barr’s defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) — who also happens to be the D.A.’s daughter — is determined to keep her client off death row. But does she really think Barr is innocent? Or is she just playing out some unresolved father/daughter conflict?

That’s when James Barr reaches out for Jack Reacher.

As if shining the bat signal into the sky, James Barr merely writes “Get Jack Reacher” on a piece of paper, and soon enough, Reacher (Tom Cruise) appears in the flesh.

Jack Reacher

Also ex-military but now more of a lonely nomad, Reacher is determined to find out who really committed the crime and doesn’t seem to mind if that requires spending time with the winsome Helen.

The plot is full of twists and turns, as each new dark layer or secret is revealed. German filmmaker Werner Herzog plays a Tarantino-esque villain called the Zec, a man who recalls his days exiled in Siberia, where he chewed off his own fingers to keep from working in the deadly sulfur mines, after stealing a dead man’s coat.

Jack Reacher

Just when the film starts to take itself too seriously, the melodrama is broken up by some dark humor, which both Cruise and British actress Pike play to perfection.

In his hotel room, a shirtless and scarred Reacher knowingly distracts Helen with his perfectly sculpted muscles. The sexual tension is high, but is also laugh-out-loud funny when Helen thinks Reacher’s leaning in to kiss her. She attempts to cover up her disappointment when he doesn’t, but her desire is so palpable, she just can’t hide it.

Bottom line: This movie is heavy on gun violence, but it also has a clever plot that you’ll enjoy attempting to untangle. Even at 50, Tom Cruise can still kick butt with the best of them.

Jack Reacher has a running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures