Adapted from Lee Child's best-selling books, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise, "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol") is a former military investigator who has disappeared without a trace. He only comes back to society only when he feels he's needed, to right wrongs or makes sure that justice is served.
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the film opens with an incredibly chilling sequence of sniper attack, even more disturbing in light of the recent tragedy in Newton. The sequence is effectively shot, using the sniper's vantage point, with the rifle moving back and forth, randomly selecting its victims. The police (David Oyelowo), predictably catches the wrong guy, James Barr (Joseph Sikora), and Reacher shows up.
Working with a defense lawyer, Helen (Rosamund Pike) with a frayed relationship with her District Attorney father (Richard Jenkins), Reacher reviews evidences, questions misinterpreted conclusions or overlooked connections. Aside from learning the background of the suspected shooter and victims, a parking meter quarter, bar fight, auto parts store, house trap become the keys in uncovering a conspiracy.
In Child's books, Reacher is supposed to be this hulking, 6'5" physically imposing guy. While Cruise certainly doesn't fit the physical description, he surprisingly nails the role. On the brawn side, he fights convincingly. On the brain aspect, he brings out the character's cool confidence (or smugness, depending on how you see it), competence, intellect, not to mention charismatic presence. Cruise and Pike have great chemistry, although romance is kept at bay here. Robert Duvall makes quite an impression as a gun range owner. Werner Herzog and Jai Courtney complete the supporting cast as creepy and cold-blooded bad guys.
Judging from the trailer, "Jack Reacher" may be mistaken for an action flick. It's more like a crime thriller with a few action sequences. While the story loses steam towards the end and the conspiracy may not be as big as one might have conjured up, it is one engaging movie. A story-driven one with a strong and interesting protagonist, it's actually most enthralling during the investigative process in which Reacher piecing together clues. Not only that, it is unexpectedly funny, with a lot of situational, perfectly timed comical one-liners.
The holiday season has no shortage of movie selections, including those accumulating accolades and gearing up for the primary award shows come January and February 2013. If you're looking for an alternative flick over the holidays other than vampires, hobbits, musical or history lessons, "Jack Reacher" is a solid, whodunit mystery that will keep you entertained.
DVD (blu-ray): http://tinyurl.com/brerqus