Let's put aside the elephant in the room, shall we? This is not a pure adaptation of the Jack Reacher from the books (which I have yet to read). The literary Jack Reacher is described as well over six-feet tall and built like the proverbial, whereas this Jack Reacher is ... well, Tom Cruise. Ultimately, though, does it matter? Not a jot, because this version of Jack Reacher is still a fine piece of cinematic entertainment.
Adapted from the 2005 novel One Shot, the story centres around an apparently random slaying of six people in a Pittsburgh park by a sniper. All the evidence in what appears to be a pretty simple open-and-shut case points to former US Army sniper James Barr (Sikora). When questioned by police detective Emerson (Oyelowo) and District Attorney Rodin (Jenkins), all he has to say to them is: "Get Jack Reacher." A small problem is that nobody knows who Jack Reacher actually is, a problem quickly solved when Reacher himself appears at their door.
It seems that Reacher, a former military police officer, and Barr have a history. Back in their Iraq days, Reacher investigated him for murdering civilians during a psychotic break. Thus it can be said that Barr is not his favourite person is the world, but in the interests of justice, Reacher sets out to find the truth. Defending Barr is lawyer Helen Rodin (Pike), daughter of the DA, who learns to trust Reacher and his instincts as they slowly work their way to the truth of what really happened.
It's a perfectly decent action thriller, with some good fight scenes and one particularly terrific car chase. It's got a great cast who all turn in decent performances, as you'd expect. And the police procedural aspect of the film is also pretty well handled. Even though he's not playing the literary version of Reacher, Cruise is utterly believable in the role; he's still a first-rate movie star capable of carrying a film such as this. What's really nice is to see Cruise playing a darker, more brutal character than he usually does; Jack Reacher is not afraid to hurt people, or even kill, when it's required. This is a solid film featuring a compelling character, and with plenty of novels to draw on, it'd be great to see Jack Reacher ride again.
EXTRAS ★★★ An audio commentary with producer and star Cruise and director McQuarrie; a separate commentary with composer Joe Kraemer; the featurette When The Man Comes Around (26:49), which looks at the making of the film and adapting Reacher for the screen; the featurette You Do Not Mess With Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons (10:27), whihc does what it says on the tin; and the featurette The Reacher Phenomenon (11:10), which analysis Lee Child's literary character.