Jack Reacher (2012) directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Jack Reacher is based on the novel One Shot by Lee Child. It is part of a series of novels featuring Jack Reacher. They are all stand-alone adventures, not requiring knowledge of previous books for enjoyment. Reacher is an ex-military man drifting around America with the clothes on his back, a tooth brush, and an ATM card. He typically gets involved in some criminal activity when he runs into a victim who appeals to his sense of justice or a criminal who appalls his sense of justice. I've listened to three of the stories as audiobooks and found them exciting and enjoyable. But not One Shot. I was looking forward to a film version of the character, imagining Dwayne Johnson, aka the Rock, in the main role.
What Jack Reacher has is the more controversial casting choice of Tom Cruise. Certainly Cruise is a more bankable star, but Reacher is a taller, younger, and tougher character than the contemporary Cruise tough guy. Most fans of the novels groaned at the casting decision, but Hollywood runs on numbers, not on faithfulness to fan expectations. A related worry for fans was that the rest of the movie would be run by numbers rather than by the delightful craftsmanship found in the novels.
As for Cruise, I can see how people who haven't read the books would be satisfied with his performance. He does have the charisma and the toughness to deliver a great action character. He suggests the physicality through looks and voice quite well. I still wasn't fully satisfied, but Cruise performed well.
The story was interesting though moments of it fell into cliche. The overall conspiracy didn't quite hold together and the finale wound up showing too many recycled bits from 1980s action films. Not the good bits, either. The movie ran too much according to numbers than to good storytelling, resulting in a mediocre action picture. Which would be okay, if I didn't know the source material well enough to know how far short they fell from the mark.
Parental Advisory: Some foul language but not excessive; one thonged female rear end; lots of violence but not a lot of blood and gore; some intense scenes.