Jack Reacher (PG-13)

Drama 130 December 21, 2012
By Chuck Wilson
In his 2005 novel One Shot, Lee Child lays out nine rules for surviving a five-against-one alley fight. Rule nine: "Don’t run head-on into Jack Reacher. It's like running into an oak tree." As fans of Child's 17 Reacher novels know, the drifter hero is 6-foot-5, which means that to bring this oak of a man to life onscreen, the comparatively diminutive Tom Cruise (5-foot-7) would have to overcompensate with some serious tough-guy glowering. That was the expectation, anyway. Instead, when surrounded on a dark Pittsburgh street by five fools paid a hundred bucks each to beat him bloody, Cruise's Reacher gives a "you-asked-for-it" shrug, then puts the five down. Convincingly. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (co-writer of The Usual Suspects), the movie concerns Reacher's attempts to clear the name of an army sniper arrested for a shooting spree. The opening calls to mind the cold, heartless grace of a Brian De Palma set piece, but McQuarrie maintains a jokey tone throughout the rest of the film, as if to let us know that nobody's taking this lone hero stuff too seriously. And master cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Black Stallion) must have taken great joy in bouncing light off Rosamund Pike's resplendent blond hair. Should a beat-'em-up action flick be this beautiful?
Christopher McQuarrie Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, James Martin Kelly, Jai Courtney, Alexia Fast, Werner Herzog, Richard Jenkins, Kristen Dalton, David Oyelowo Christopher McQuarrie Don Granger, Paula Wagner, Gary Levinsohn, Tom Cruise Paramount Pictures