Jack Reacher (2012)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 1/1/13
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog, Robert Duvall, Alexia Fast, Joseph Sikora

"Jack Reacher" is a solid actioner and a taut thriller that suffers only from some sluggish pacing. An ex-army sniper named James Barr (Joseph Sikora) is framed for a multiple homicide shooting spree, and inexplicably calls for a man named Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise). Reacher is an ex-army cop who busted him for a previous crime, who now lives off the grid as a phantom drifter. When he sees Barr on TV, he pays him a visit and finds himself thrown into the midst of a dangerous conspiracy. Reacher and defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) manage to dig through all of the lies and find the truth, but at what cost?

It's a dark, gritty, and tragic film, and even though justice is served, the hurting and healing are only beginning. The final scene with Barr is gripping and heartwrenching, and haunts you long after you leave the theater. Tom Cruise sheds his charming nice guy persona and plays a truly unlikable character in this film. He pulls it off well and his caustic personality is solid and believable. His stunt work and driving scenes are also nicely executed, and bristle with excitement and authenticity. The action scenes are well crafted, tense, and fun to watch, and the fight choreography is brutal and hard hitting. Unfortunately, the cinematography and editing obscure a good deal of it. Rosamund Pike is excellent as a smart and sexy attorney who's in over her head, and does a good job of holding her own against Reacher's abrasive tough guy exterior. Pretty Alexia Fast provides some attractive eye candy as the ill-fated Sandy, but her impact is ruined by hideous lipstick. Celebrated film director Werner Herzog makes a surprisingly impressive turn as a creepy and utterly believable villain, and nearly steals the show. He should consider this as a new career option. Overall, I found "Jack Reacher" to be quite enjoyable, and its grim, no-nonsense approach is a refreshing reminder of 70's and 80's action cinema.