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By MARK TURNER
Back in the sixties a new sort of character was formed in movies. This was the anti-hero, a person who did the right things but not always for the right reason and who always seemed to do things in the most unorthodox and unapproved ways.
Where this was usually the odd man out during the time it eventually became the norm rather than the exception. Over the past few years there haven't been that many successful anti-heroes out there. With JACK REACHER that all changes.
Tom Cruise stars as the title character, an ex-military detective who is self-assured in everything he does and can back up that attitude. When a man named Barr is accused of being a sniper and having killed five innocent people, he tells them to contact Jack Reacher. The problem is no one knows how to find him. That doesn't matter, though, since Reacher has seen the news story about the killings and heads in that direction.
It seems like an open and shut case. The gun, the equipment to make the bullets, the van he drove and a quarter with his fingerprint on it found at the scene in a parking meter all point to the guilt of Barr. Helen (Rosamund Pike), his attorney, doesn't doubt his guilt but wants to make sure he isn't executed. Thinking Reacher might be her salvation she's surprised to find that he came here to make sure Barr is put away, explaining to her what he did years ago when he served in the military. But as she talks to Reacher things don't add up and he stays on to become her investigator.
If he did nothing more than that the story would be a short one. Instead, those responsible for the killings, attempt to take Reacher out of the picture resulting in some major medical problems to the five men who try to follow through on that order. Rather than brush him off it does nothing more than make him feel certain that there is someone else responsible for the killings and trying to frame Barr.
As Reacher delves deeper into the lives of the victims it becomes apparent why these people were chosen, or at least one of them. He continues forward facing down opponents tossed his way, an attempt to frame him for another murder and a slew of bad guys who want nothing more than for Reacher to go away. But that's the problem with an anti-hero. He may have nothing invested in the cause going on but when you push him chances are he'll push back...and much harder than you pushed to begin with.
Cruise has become the king of action films with not only this movie but the entire MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series and other films as well. In this film while he doesn't resemble the character from the series of books (a fact that miffed many fans of the series) he does turn in another fantastic performance as Reacher. Reacher is a character that you wouldn't want to anger but that you'd love to have in your corner. Cruise does a great job of making his Reacher believable with ease.
The rest of the cast does an equally commendable job, especially Pike who offers a character who could come off simply as a damsel in distress but who instead shows a bit of grit of her own. Noting that she is the daughter of the district attorney trying the case, she butts heads with her father throughout trying to find justice rather than a simple easy conviction for him.
Director/screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie has always had a handle on action films, smart ones at that. It would be great to see him continue on with this series with Cruise in the lead but a weak box office return for this film means that isn't likely. Then again hot DVD sales/rentals could change all that.
So if you're looking for some top notch action this week look no further than this film. It does it all in spades from fast paced car chases, to shoot outs to well choreographed fight sequences. Action fans couldn't ask for more.
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