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With: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Vladimir Sizov, Joseph Sikora, Michael Raymond-James, Alexia Fast, Josh Helman, Robert Duvall, James Martin Kelly, Dylan Kussman, Denver Milord
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, based on a book by Lee Child
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material
Running Time: 130
Date: 20/12/2012

Jack Reacher (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Off the Grid

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jack Reacher is what happens when Tom Cruise is unceremoniously deposited into something like a European crime thriller; the results are unexpected, but not unpleasant. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, who is best known for his Oscar-winning screenplay for The Usual Suspects, has only directed once before: the peculiar The Way of the Gun (2000) baffled nearly everyone in its day but has gained a small, passionate following since.

Now McQuarrie brings that same slow, weird sensibility to the new Cruise vehicle, based on one of many "Jack Reacher" novels by English author Lee Child. Fight and chase scenes slip by with the timing of a Looney Tunes cartoon at half-speed, and with no music; the score only chimes at the tail end of an exciting scene. The effect is like druggy displacement, with existential meaning lurking just beneath the surface. How can it not be so with Werner Herzog glowering in the movie's corners as its chief bad guy, a scary Siberian prison survivor with the code name "The Zec"?

It's constantly intriguing. Reacher (Cruise) is summoned to look at a case in which a former army sniper suddenly killed five seemingly random people in Philadelphia. He works with a lawyer assigned to the sniper's case (Rosamund Pike), whose father happens to be the snaky D.A. (Richard Jenkins). David Oyelowo plays a police detective and Cruise's pal Robert Duvall turns up as a comical, cranky rifle range owner. Once again, Cruise happily, giddily proves that he can both live up to, and subvert, movie star expectations. He's truly a "Reacher."
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