I’ll be honest, I went into Tom Cruise’s new film, Jack Reacher, with the smirk of condescension and was planning on writing a snark review. I came out very satisfied and with a new respect for the controversial “closeted”, Scientologist. Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie’s throwback action flick.
I can honestly say that Reacher, based on a crime novel series by Brit author Lee Childes, is the last great action movie of the year.
I’m a sucker for old schol 70s -80s action flicks with little CGI, car chases, political intrigue and pay phones. Reacher fits the bill on all accounts.
In the film, Cruise, much shorter than his 6’5 literary counterpart, plays an off the grid drifter and former Military Police investigator who is called back into action by a wayward sniper accused of shooting 6 random people in Pittsburgh.
The first ten minutes of the film are the most tense, and for me scary moments in any film this year. There’s no music. A sniper sees the world through his scope and watches people go on about their day as he picks his targets. In America, we are all at the end of a sniper scope. We never see it coming. Get up, go to work, and never make it home again…

The accused sniper, played by Joseph Sikora, was hunted and arrested by Reacher when the both were serving in Iraq. Sikora’s Mike Barr shot and killed five military contractors before he left the country for home. Reacher, then a major, caught him before he reached the States. Though he got off, Barr knows the Reacher is the only man who can clear him now as he swears his innocence in the Pittsburgh shootings.
What ensues is a twisty old school style political thriller not seen since the 70s. Reacher rolls into town and takes over the case after a pleading (and hot) defense attorney, Helen played by three characters, Brit actress Rosamund Pike and her ample breasts (who should be nominated for Best Supporting Actresses). Once on the case, Reacher is set up, framed and warned of as is common in political thrillers.
As we find out pretty early on, the villain The Zek which means “prisoner” in Russian and played with non-ironic menace by batshit crazy director Werner Herzog, who apparently chewed off his own fingers in a Soviet Gulag, is pulling the strings over a land deal.
The film has quite a few twists which I won’t give away here and by the end you totally buy Cruise as the drifter action hero.
I want to talk a little bit about Cruise. I don’t care about his sofa hopping, gay rumor, Scientology, bad dad life. I care about my him making my two hours in a theater worth my money. And with VERY few exceptions, Cruise brings it every time.
Now lets talk about that old schoolness. I’m a SUCKER for a classic car chase. Bullit, The Rock and especially Ronin with Di Nero and Jean Renaud. Reacher returns the non-CGI car chase to the big screen. Loved it.
McQuarrie, who was REALLY auditioning for Mission Impossible 5 with this flick, has an excellent command of suspense and action beats. HIs fight sequences were tightly choreographed and believable.

If Reacher had any drawbacks, it would be in some of the loopholes in the plot and Cruise’s sometime TOO sarcastic treatment of what apparently is a dour character. In the end, it’s a good, unexpected popcorn trip that will make you crave a sequel.
4 out of 5 stars.