Before looking into Jack Reacher a little bit, I didn't know that it was based on a novel called One Shot, written by Lee Child. While it's an adaptation, it still feels incredibly similar to Tom Cruise's work in the Mission: Impossible films, but toned down to a smaller scale. However, he's one of those stars in Hollywood that can be in almost any project he wants and it won't cause an issue with his career. His newest venture isn't bad, but it doesn't come close to Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which didn't come out that long ago. Jack Reacher has moments when it's fun and others when it's generic and unintentionally funny.
On one fateful day, six shots were fired and five ended up dead. The city gets thrown into a state of terror after these seemingly random murders. It doesn't take long for the detectives to solve the case, until the accused man, Barr (Joseph Sikora), asks for Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise). After he arrives, he soon begins working with Helen (Rosamund Pike), who is Barr's lawyer and wishes to keep him off of death row. After taking the time to dig into the case, Jack believes that Barr was framed and that the murderer is still out there. As a drifter who moves from city to city, he has nothing to lose by fighting to take down the people who committed the crime.
After the killings have occurred, Barr is in a coma from a head injury and Jack Reacher arrives to find out what's happening. Jack and Helen begin trying to find out why the suspected man would be so careless as to leave so much evidence at the crime scene. This is actually the most interesting portion of the entire running time. There are multiple layers to the crime and people continue to get framed, which leaves the audience to figure out who can be trusted. It isn't anything extraordinary, but it would have been intriguing to see how this movie would have turned out if the focus was held on the crime-solving. Unfortunately, this film's priorities change after the first fighting scene in a bar. From here on out, the story starts to go downhill. Unfortunately, it goes from being an alright mystery/thriller to being a generic action flick. The entire crime plot goes down the drain and it never finds its way out.
When the characters actually begin to speak, it gets even worse. Director/writer Christopher McQuarrie's screenplay has cheesy lines that one would expect to see in a B-movie. Sometimes it's trying to be funny and other times it isn't, but will still leave viewers laughing. Fortunately, it isn't an absolute disaster, since Jack Reacher doesn't take itself too seriously. However, it ultimately feels like just another B-movie, as it does absolutely nothing to stand out from the crowd. One could create a checklist of every cliché one would expect from one of these features and check off each one as the picture plays. I understand that some pictures are made as mindless entertainment, but there isn't even enough off-the-wall action to make this a worthwhile popcorn flick. Everything plays out exactly as one would expect. The ending isn't only predictable, but the "ultimate showdown" between the protagonist and antagonist is anti-climatic. You'll keep waiting for something fun to happen, but it never does.
Under McQuarrie's screenplay and direction, these actors didn't have a lot to work with. Tom Cruise is fine, as he has always been able to pull off being an action star. Rosamund Pike is a mixed bag as Helen. She's quite believable in some scenes, but then feels awkward in others. Richard Jenkins has an appearance as the District Attorney, who also happens to be Helen's father. He's in a very small amount of the feature, but he brightens up every scene he's in. David Oyelowo is decent as Emerson, even though the character has absolutely no room to breathe due to all of the script's nonsense. The performances are exactly what viewers will expect going into it. None of them are spectacular, but they're all suitable for the picture.
There's not a lot to be seen with these bland PG-13 action sequences. From the fight scenes to the car chases, there isn't anything new brought to the table, which is a real shame. The closest it gets to a thrilling scene is when Jack goes through a tunnel of oncoming traffic, as he tries to catch up to those who are responsible for the crimes. It's been done numerous times before and it won't do much for viewers who have seen a lot of these movies. Putting creativity aside, the FX themselves are done well and the audio manages to make great use of each speaker with a large amount of surround activity. If you're interested in checking this out, you'll want to crank up the audio for this one.
The primary issue with Jack Reacher is that it does absolutely nothing to be different from other movies in this genre. The film begins with an enjoyable-enough story, but it throws that away to be a popcorn flick with action scenes that are far too common. Perhaps the feature should have beefed up on one or the other. There isn't enough story to be a solid crime/drama, but there isn't enough high-octane action to be a good popcorn flick. Jack Reacher is saved by not taking itself too seriously. It isn't an outright bad movie, but it's not a good movie either, which leaves me right in the center. This truly is your run-of-the-mill action flick. If you're still interested, a rental would be the best choice for this one.