A well-made and often-disturbing thriller with a cool lead performance
Jack Reacher is a very good action thriller written for screen and directed by Academy Award winner Christopher McQuarrie. With this film, McQuarrie shows his talent for directing. His use of close ups to highlight information, and also he also uses his camera to show character non-verbally very well. As for the writing, there are flaws. It begins very well, and the mystery is excellent. However, in between it takes a break, and it becomes boring for a bit. Still, Jack Reacher is still able to come back after the break, and ends with a satisfying end, but still isn't up to par for what the beginning had to offer.
The lead performance from Tom Cruise is really good. He may not be as heavy nor as tall as Reacher, but if you put that aside, you will see that Cruise is able to get in this guy's head, and it shows on screen. Tom Cruise really is Jack Reacher.
The other performances aren't bad. Rosamund Pike, like Cruise, is able to get into her character's head, and it shows on screen. Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo both show their tough sides, but there with strength, there is vulnerability. Especially Oyelowo, who shows vulnerability without speaking a word. Joseph Sikora nails his character's helplessness. Werner Herzog has a scary presence, while actually acting like a gentleman. Alexia Fast shows fear very well, and Robert Duvall is pretty eccentric as Martin Cash.
Jack Reacher is a violent film. It is never graphic, there is almost no blood. The violence has been toned down for a PG-13 rating, but nevertheless, the violence will be disturbing to some. Jack Reacher is a violent man. He doesn't want to get in trouble, but when in trouble, he will be very violent. The film opens with the murder of five people. Later, the victims's personal stories are revealed. One happens to be a 19 year old girl who was only babysitting a five year old girl, and one happens to be a mother of a young boy. These two deaths can be unsettling for some viewers. In a brief flashback, we see a man being beaten up very badly. This is also disturbing. A scene where someone has to bite their fingers off, a scene with a girl suffocated to death. These are disturbing scenes.
There are other violent scenes, but not as disturbing. Reacher takes down five guys in a bar fight. You can see and hear the pain the victims suffer. Reacher kills two guys by hitting one's head on the other, and hurts a guy holding a gun by twisting his fingers. Reacher kills one guy with a rock, and there are a couple other murders. There is a fight scene with a villain and Reacher, and that doesn't end up very pleasantly.
In addition to that, there is brief language. The f-word, the b-word, and sh*t is uttered, but there is not a lot of it. Plus there is brief drug use, but I wouldn't worry about that a lot.
Some kids under 13 may watch this movie and won't be disturbed by the violence. It really depends on your kid. I would say that in general, if your kid is under 13, this may not be the movie for him.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking