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MOVIE REVIEW: Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher would entertain with spills, thrills, intrigue, action and humor. The Lee Child book series fans should get enough from Cruise's characterization of the titular anti-hero. "Remember, you wanted this!"

★ ★ ★ ★ out of 5 buckets | Matinee and DVD

Rated: PG-13 - Violence, some drug material and language.
Release Date: December 21, 2012Runtime: 2 hours 10 minutes
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writers: Christopher McQuarrie, based on the novel 'One Shot' by Lee Child
Cast:  Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo, Jai Courtney, Robert Duvall, Michael Raymond-James, Alexia Fast

SYNOPSIS: 
An ex-Army drifter who served as a military investigator in the service is drafted into service again as a civilian when a defense attorney asks him to look into the evidence against a sniper Reacher dealt with before.

REVIEW:
 Christopher McQuarrie, screenwriter of The Tourist and director of the 2000The Way of the Gun, writes and directs the first Lee Child novel adaptation of his popular loner anti-hero Jack Reacher, based on the novel 'One Shot'.

A man sets up in a parking garage across the river from the major league ballpark. He selects several targets and fires. In the aftermath, all evidence points to an ex-Army sniper with a classified history of unstable violence. When James Barr (Joseph Sikora,Safe) is arrested, instead of a confession he writes 'Get Jack Reacher'. While the district attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins, Killing Them Softly) and the top Pittsburgh police detective Emerson (David Oyelowo, Lincoln) can not find the ghost named Reacher, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise, Rock of Ages) appears in Pittsburgh after seeing Barr's face on the news. The daughter of the district attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike, Wrath of the Titans), is set to get Barr a fair trial and enlists Reacher to be her lead investigator to prove why Barr was so eager to kill so many innocent people. But as Reacher digs deeper and finds the evidence too perfect, he is targeted by seen and unseen menaces with their own hidden agenda.

Lee Child has written several stories centered around his loner drifter anti-hero who wants to be left alone but seems to always find himself in trouble. In Jack Reacher, based on Lee Child's 'One Shot', the writer/director Christopher McQuarrie introduces Jack Reacher through quick narrative to get us caught up with the titular character. While Child's 'The Killing Floor' is Jack Reacher's first appearance, 'One Shot' does introduce Reacher well enough. Lovers of the books may be disappointed in the choice of story, but it serves as a well-suited suspense action and suspense tale.

Another issue that has come to light is the choice of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. While not the prototypical look and physique that the readers had expected, Child put enough faith in Cruise's star power, box-office draw, and talent to give him the go-ahead. And, in my opinion, Cruise delivers. His stoic, squared-jawed, ripped abs, driven performance should be enough to sway most fans of the books. Also, I think Cruise's more handsome, more diminutive stature allows him to seem the underdog in every situation instead of the obvious victor.

Joining Cruise are Richard Jenkins as the secretive and stern district attorney. Rosamund Pike served as the DA's daughter and opposing council who wants to provide Barr a fair trial while thinking that she cannot win. David Oyelowo joins as the lead Pittsburgh police detective, pulling off his best Sydney Poitier, sympathizing with Rodin and Reacher but keeping his eye in all of the evidence against Barr. Partially hidden in shadows, Reacher may not be capable enough to handle the digit-less man only known as The Zec (Werner Herzog, Invincible), his grim ruthless unnamed buzz-cut lieutenant (Jai Courtney,Spartacus: Vengeance), and some local Pittsburgh thuggery led by a man named Linsky (Michael Raymond-James, True Blood).

From the intense shooting gallery scene at the beginning of the film to the climatic showdown in a rainy quarry, Jack Reacher should appeal to the staunchest of action fans. Lovers of the intrigue genre will also be satisfied. there are familiar vignettes as reminders of Lethal WeaponA Few Good Men, Bullitt, and even The Blues Brothers, letting you know there is action, suspense, and laughs. Yes, laughs! There is great stoic humor in the dialogue and physicality and situations. One particular bathroom brawl is so absurd that it should bring out a tear of laughter.

Jack Reacher
 would entertain with spills, thrills, intrigue, action and humor. The Lee Child book series fans should get enough from Cruise's characterization of the titular anti-hero to have them clamoring for more of the series to be adapted. "Remember, you wanted this!" 

Chuck Ingersoll is the editor and movie reviewing contributor for Hot Butter Reviews. You can find hundreds of reviews at www.HotButterReviews.com.

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