Movie review: ‘Jack Reacher’ is competent, but overly macho

By Sean P. Means

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: December 22, 2012 01:42PM
Updated: April 8, 2013 11:33PM
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This undated publicity photo released by Paramount Pictures shows Tom Cruise, right, as Reacher and Jai Courtney as Charlie in the film, "Jack Reacher." (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Karen Ballard)

“Jack Reacher” is a Tom Cruise action movie, so you know exactly what you’re going to get — competent thrills, Cruise looking tough, and the strong hint that this is just the start of a franchise.

Cruise plays the title character, an off-the-grid former military-police investigator created by novelist Lee Child (who wrote the character as 6-foot-5, but who’s counting?). When a sniper shoots five random victims outside Pittsburgh’s PNC Park one morning, Reacher shows up to help the suspect’s defense attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), investigate the case that the DA, Helen’s father (Richard Jenkins), is building.

In short order, Reacher deduces that the shooting wasn’t so random, and the trail of clues ultimately leads to a shadowy mastermind called The Zec (played with oily menace by filmmaker Werner Herzog).

Screenwriter-director Christopher McQuarrie (who wrote “The Usual Suspects”) devises some clever set pieces and gets good mileage out of a cameo turn by Robert Duvall.

The pacing is sometimes slack and some scenes get almost comically macho, such as when Reacher throws down his gun so he can battle Zec’s main thug (Jai Courtney) hand-to-hand in the rain. You know, the way real men do.

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‘Jack Reacher’

Opens today at theaters everywhere; rated PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material; 130 minutes.