Tom Cruise plays the titular character, the protagonist of a series of crime thrillers by Lee Child. Reacher is a former Major of the Military Police Corps, now roaming the US. He had a brilliant career, but then, all of a sudden, left the force and became a drifter, traveling by bus, investigating suspicious cases. In this movie Reacher is investigating the case of a former army sniper who allegedly killed five innocent people in Pittsburgh.
In the books Reacher is an almost superhuman, cold-blooded giant, 6‘5“ (1,96 m), weighing some 230 pounds, blue-eyed, with dark-blond hair. Cruise is, as we all know, almost the direct opposite. But there’s nothing to worry about (except maybe for fans of the novels): Reacher is not a character but an archetype; he has some superhuman qualities (a photographic memory, a build-in clock that tells him how much time has passed since a particular moment) and a personal code which tells him to bring justice wherever the system isn’t able to do so.
The opening scene (a sniper targeting possible victims through the telescope of his rifle) will remind some of us of the opening scene of Don Siegel’s Dirty Harry. I ’s a pretty unsettling sequence and the violence in the movie is actually quite gruesome for a thriller aimed at large audiences. The plot is rather flimsy (and far-fetched), but director McQuarrie keeps up the pace so we don't have too much time to worry about things. One of the villains is played by German director Werner Herzog, probably still best known for his collaborations with Kinski (Aguirre, Fitzcarraldo): he plays his character in true Kinski style, turning the evildoer into a Russian with a German accent.