Jack Reacher Review
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Last year, Tom Cruise enjoyed remarkable holiday box office success with the hold-your-breath action and thrills of Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol. But while he obviously intended to follow-up last year’s hit thriller with more of the same this year, Jack Reacher is no Mission: Impossible.

Inspired by the popular crime thrillers by author Lee Child, Jack Reacher stars Cruise as the title character, an ex-military loose cannon who’s called in to investigate a shooting in Pittsburgh.

After five people are shot and killed, the police follow the clues to James Barr (Joseph Sikora), an unstable Army sniper with a dark past. After he’s arrested—and just before he’s beaten into a coma in a prison fight—Barr tells District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins) to find Jack Reacher.

Reacher knows Barr’s darkest secrets—so he has no doubt that the man is guilty. But as he digs into the case with Barr’s attorney, Helen (Rosamund Pike), he begins to wonder whether there’s more to the case than just five random murders.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the movies of 2012, it’s that not all popular novels make good movies. While The Hunger Games was a remarkable adaptation, with a gripping story and characters that felt real, Alex Cross was awkward and unnatural and generally laughable. And Jack Reacher falls into the same category as Alex Cross. Though the story may have been attention-grabbing on the page, it makes for a convoluted mess of a movie. And while the rapid-fire dialogue and pithy one-liners may have seemed clever in the book, they sound silly when they’re spoken out loud.

Part of the problem, it seems, is that Tom Cruise simply can’t do the character justice. While he’s perfect for the role of Ethan Hunt, the car-chasing, building-scaling agent from the Mission: Impossible movies, he isn’t a good fit for Jack Reacher, the big, burly, bar-fighting ex-military man. And, to make matters even worse, he takes the role way too seriously, delivering the character’s constant stream of one-liners as if they were all tiny little Oscar-worthy monologues.

Really, though, Cruise isn’t the only culprit. The rest of the cast is just as bad—especially Pike. Though she’s supposed to be a brilliant attorney, her Helen spends most of the movie looking stunned and absolutely distraught by everything that’s going on around her. The only high points are the old guys: Robert Duvall and the always entertaining Werner Herzog, who seems to think that he’s in a James Bond film.

Though the story has action-movie potential, Jack Reacher is just a perplexing mess of ridiculous characters, overdone performances, some strangely slapstick action, and a shirtless Tom Cruise who’s desperately trying to prove that he’s still got it. So, for some gripping crime solving action, I recommend skipping the big-screen adaptation and picking up the book instead.

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