Who has the freedom to run around the city beating thugs up and solving a mass murder case even more efficiently than the local police taskforce? Who else but Jack Reacher.

With Adam Lanza’s horrendous shooting of 26 young children and school staff in Connecticut so recently etched in our minds, a movie about a random shooting of 5 can either reel in the curious, or push away those who already feel overexposed to senseless tragedy.

Fans of Lee Child’s bestselling Jack Reacher series of 17 books have a different reaction. While drawn to the film adaptation of his 2005 novel, One Shot, they’re livid that authenticity was sacrificed for box-office appeal in casting Tom Cruise as the protagonist.

How else can you explain Cruise, all of 77kg and 1.7m, being believable as Reacher, who’s described in the books as a burly blonde not so attractive guy weighing around 100kg and standing a head taller at 1.96m, they ask?

These are probably the same people who think Timothy Dalton, Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig were picked to be 007 because they physically resemble the fictional James Bond.

But Child, whose real name is Jim Grant, justifies the choice in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, saying,With another actor you might get 100% of the height but only 90% of Reacher. With Tom, you’ll get 100% of Reacher with 90% of the height.”

Cruise also just happens to be one of the movie’s producers, so he has even more riding on this than his rep as an A-list leading man.

The movie revolves around the search for evidence to prove the true identity of the killer who camps in a car park opposite the fifth home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the PNC Park, before gunning down 5 seemingly random people in seconds. Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) zeroes in on ex-Army sniper, James Barr (Joseph Sikora) as prime suspect but his swift arrest obviously shows that he was wrongfully accused.

District Attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins) is bent on finding Barr guilty of murder, but finds himself battling his own daughter Defense Attorney, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike).
As certain as Reacher was that Barr was guilty of the 5 murders, after he once forgave Barr for a mass murder he committed years back, he’s surprisingly helpful towards Helen. He soon starts to doubt that Barr was the criminal after his visit to the crime scene in an attempt to recreate the murder. Helen is assisted by Reacher’s extraordinary skills of deduction as he sniffs out clues and valiantly fights thugs who want to put an end to his “treasure hunt”.

The movie is filled with fight scenes including one where 5 men surround a lone Jack Reacher, who despatches them with unarmed combat, given his history as a US Army Military Police Major who served 13 years in the Force and was trained to handle suspects who were all trained killers. Other than that, look out for the comical scene where unusually clumsy thugs stumble when trying to take Reacher out in a small house, which brings to mind the 1990 American family comedy film, Home Alone.

Jack Reacher has all that’s required for an action flick – good ol’ unarmed combat, a car chase that’s a must-have every other action flick, topped with a plot that requires a significant amount of brainwork to be done before the pieces make sense. Kudos to British Academy Award screenwriter and director, Josh Olson, for his near perfect execution of the screenplay that brought the main character of the 17-book series to life, despite the plot clichés, such as the protagonist getting what he sets out for without sustaining any life-threatening injuries, you’d expect in action movies. You’ve also got to give credit to Cruise for his flawless portrayal of the stoic lone wolf seeking truth and justice that’s Jack Reacher. This is unlike the other roles he has played previously in his other films where he needs the help of a trusty partner or his well-prepared team to back him up.

However, it must be said that revelation to the audience of the identity of the killer way too early in the movie robbed us of the pleasure of playing detective with the bountiful evidence and revelations throughout the film.

The Zec’s (Werner Herzog) elaborate murder schemes and clean tracks, coupled with a scene of him mercilessly forcing his subordinate to chew his own fingers off, will have you thinking that he’s a formidable villain that Jack Reacher will have to face. However, it was disappointing to see that the grand mastermind himself was so easily taken out by Reacher with just a bullet to his head.

Cruise’s fans know that he never disappoints, especially in the action movies he stars in, like his highest grossing movies such as those in the Mission: Impossible series . Jack Reacher beautifully fuses the vigilante Batman who takes the law into his own hands and the deductive prowess of Sherlock Holmes, who cracks mind-boggling cases in days.

Now, you can’t call that being short on entertainment, can you?

•Movie name: Jack Reacher
•Rating: 4/5
•Release Date: 20 Dec 2012
•Runtime: 130 minutes
•Language: English
•Censorship Rating: PG
•Genre: Action
•Director: Christopher McQuarrie
•Main actors: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog, Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins

All photos are from the Jack Reacher official website.