A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tom Cruise stars as the title character in Jack Reacher, an adaptation of Lee Child's novel One Shot. Reacher is a former military police offer who's enlisted to find a sniper who fired six shots into a crowd, killing five people. This thriller is violent, and vigilante Reacher shows no qualms breaking the law to make sure justice is done -- at least his version of justice. There's some swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t") and a bit of sexual tension between Reacher and co-star Rosamund Pike, but no actual sex and very little drinking. Still, there are allusions to torture, and the fight scenes are sometimes brutal; a few are very tough to stomach. Even though there's little blood or gore on screen, the film is more appropriate for older teens and up.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After a lone gunman shoots five people in a random spree of terror, all the evidence points to a former Army sniper, but the suspect makes one request: "Get JACK REACHER." Who's Reacher? A retired soldier, weapons expert, and martial artist who lives off the grid -- no car, no mobile phone, no credit card, no known address. The star of a popular series of novels by author Lee Childs, Reacher (Tom Cruise) travels from town to town, always managing to get himself involved in some kind of adventure. Here, he sets out to make sure the accused gets what he deserves, but soon begins to suspect he may actually be innocent. Working with a defense attorney (Rosamund Pike), Reacher uncovers a dangerous conspiracy run by violent thugs who are eager to shut him up, permanently. Robert Duvall and Richard Jenkins co-star.
Is it any good?
This movie is muscley but ultimately forgettable entertainment. The story in Jack Reacher has enough twists to keep viewers interested, and Cruise playing stoic, confident, and extremely competent is always watchable. Plus, there are a few set pieces that are good fun. (Watch as Cruise, weary and wary, takes on five punks after warning them they're in for more than they expect -- no spoiler, he wasn't lying.)
But the film lacks momentum. It moves quickly through the action sequences and then too slowly as Cruise and Pike knit together the clues. The villains, led by a shadowy Russian, are generically evil, yet their motivation is unclear. Pike in particular has little to do other than look anxious in her damsel-in-distress role. And the movie seems indulgently violent. Besides the extended opening sequence of one murder after another, there are plenty of other sequences that leave both men and women battered, bloody, and broken. In short, Jack Reacher works as a serviceable thriller, but a masterpiece of the genre? Now that's a reach.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Jack Reacher, which is rate PG-13, different from R-rated films. Is the violence less graphic or upsetting? Why or why not? What impact does seeing this kind of violence have on teens?
What do you think about Jack Reacher's vigilante actions? Is it right for one man to dispense justice to people who are clearly villains?
Why does Jack Reacher live the way he does? How do his actions in this film show what he wants out of life?
- In theaters: December 21, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: May 7, 2013
- Cast: Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, Tom Cruise
- Director: Christopher McQuarrie
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, language and some drug material
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love thrills
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch