December 25, 2012 -- An investigator who rides public transportation, works for free and has no job, or visible means of support, leaves no trace and cannot be tracked down can be called a man apart, a man of mystery. He is apart from society and is a law unto himself. That is Jack Reacher, a very interesting character inhabiting a solid action film.
Reacher, played by mega star Tom Cruise (all those Mission Impossible films) shows up to ask about a man he once investigated for murder in Iraq, James Barr (played by Joseph Sikora of “Safe”). Barr's lawyer, Helen (Rosamund Pike of “Die Another Day”) who is curious why her client asked for Reacher, asks him if he intends to help Barr. Reacher replies, “I came to bury him.”
The murder case against Barr is absolutely air-tight. The bullets used in the murder match Barr's gun. Barr's fingerprint ties him to the scene of the shooting, and he is an expert marksman with a checkered past. In fact, Barr has gotten away with murder before. Reacher knows this and has no intention of helping Barr. The only trouble is, evidence soon starts coming to light that Barr is innocent. He was framed for the murder in an extremely elaborate setup.
When Reacher starts getting to the truth of who was really behind the murders, he and Helen both become targets for organized crime killers. This leads to a lot of fist fights, shootings, car chases and other mayhem, and Reacher is a master in all forms of mayhem and killing. This is a violent film with a number of grizzly scenes, such as a man biting his own thumb off.
Both the action and the Reacher's investigation are nicely handled in this film. There is an intense, extended car chase and a grand final shootout in which Reacher is aided by an ex-Marine named Cash (played by none other than Robert Duvall of “Crazy Heart”). Duvall is such a huge star that it took me right out of the film when he suddenly appears on the screen as the owner of a rifle range. He's great, of course, and seems to relish his role in this film. Another superb actor, Richard Jenkins (“The Cabin in the Woods”) graces this film as Helen's father. David Oyelowo (“Lincoln”) is also good as the prosecutor in Barr's murder case.
The acting is very strong in this film and the action scenes are handled well. The story is fairly standard, but the characters are not, particularly Reacher, who is very mysterious and interesting. This film rates a B.
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