** SPOILERS **
Jack Reacher, an entertaining Tom Cruise vehicle produced by Tom Cruise starring Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, concerns an event that hits close to home for its similarity to recent tragedies: a sniper murders five people in Pittsburgh (including taking aim at a young child, queasily but unintentionally invoking Newtown, CT). The police capture a former Army sniper as responsible, but he asks for a mysterious man named "Jack Reacher" to clear his name. Reacher, a drifter who lives off the grid and wears one outfit he purchased from Goodwill every day, is a former Military Police who only concerns himself with "doing what's right".
As Reacher, Cruise eschews his Mission: Impossible hero Ethan Hunt's manic tendency to leap off the top of the tallest buildings he can find. Soft spoken, methodical and alert, Cruise relishes being the smartest guy in every room. There's also an amusing runner early on where every woman who encounters Cruise thinks he's the hottest shit on Earth. Unwilling to directly admit the same is Rosamund Pike, the attorney defending the accused sniper. Together, Cruise and Pike investigate a hidden conspiracy behind the seemingly random sniper murders which may or may not involve her district attorney father Richard Jenkins, police officer David Oyelowo, but definitely involves the villainous Werner Herzog. There's also the fetching Alexia Fast involved; her character is named "Sandy", rather unfortunately referencing a second recent tragedy in the Northeast.
Jack Reacher is notable for the most overt callbacks I've ever seen another movie make towards Oliver Stone's JFK. Verbiage is lifted straight from Stone's famous conspiracy jargon: "grassy knoll", "one pristine bullet", "patsy", and there's even the words "turkey shoot" posted on a sign prominently framed in the center of one scene. Besides invoking JFK, Jack Reacher also homages Lethal Weapon with Cruise's mano e mano slugfest in the rain with Herzog's top henchman Jai Courtney (who looks a little like writer-director Christopher McQuarrie's friend and collaborator Bryan Singer). McQuarrie helms Jack Reacher with a confident stride and a fondness for characters exchanging smart, snappy patter, while sprinkling in startling bouts of pleasing action and a rather extraordinary car chase. If you're sold out of seeing Django Unchained and have to choose a default movie to see instead, make it Jack Reacher.