Jack Reacher

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

We've been inundated with TV-season finales, end-of-semester craziness, and social obligations, so the Netflix DVDs kind of got pushed aside for awhile. But (since we were unwilling to battle the first-weekend crowds for Into Darkness) we cued up this one.

Here's the deal: A skilled sniper kills a bunch of folks in an unnamed Midwestern city. Thanks to a masterful crime scene investigation, the cops immediately corral a suspect, an ex-Army guy named Barr. But the Army guy just says: get Jack Reacher.

Reacher is Tom Cruise, an ex-MP, and a skilled investigator. He shows up on his own. His immediate reaction is: yeah, Barr is as guilty as hell. But little details nag at him. He is importuned by Barr's beautiful defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) to check out the case. And before you know it: fisticuffs, car chases, more murder, gunplay, explosions, …

I should note that this movie is based on the novel One Shot, which I just read back in November, and I still remembered the details. So the movie/book comparisons were inevitable, and (in my case) the movie suffered. A major plot twist is given away right at the beginning. A lot of backstory is left out. Characters are left out. Action sequences are crammed in. I kept wondering: would this make any sense to someone who hasn't read the book? (Mrs. Salad confessed confusion.)

Reacher's creator, Lee Child, blessed Tom Cruise as a credible actor for the role. Fine, but I beg to differ. I've always imagined Kiefer Sutherland in the role while reading the books, and Mr. Cruise's performance did not sway me from that opinion. (Although he did a pretty good job otherwise.)

Finally: I don't know what the deal is with the flag imagery on the DVD box over there. Although I like patriotism as much as the next guy, there's not very much to inspire it in Jack Reacher.

Last Modified 2013-06-19 9:41 AM EDT