In Tom Cruise's defense, Jack Reacher has got to be almost impossible to portray believably. The protagonist of Lee Child's series of thrillers is so perfect, he's basically unreal: ridiculously tall, ridiculously buff, never makes mistakes. To slather perfection on top of perfection, Reacher is a former military policeman who lives off the grid, has a photographic memory, is irresistible to women, and is obsessed only with justice. The problem is that Cruise is playing Reacher with his usual IN! TENSE! acting style (does he have any other?), while he should be almost laid-back as he beats the shit out of some thugs outside a crappy bar or casually insults a woman who dares to try to hit on him. Cruise's intensity has developed an almost-desperate sheen these days; the veins in his face throb as he tries to look like he's perfectly normal.

Aside from the ball of stress that is the main character, Jack Reacher is an overly talky but occasionally entertaining mystery. Highlights include a great, unexpected physical comedy sequence featuring two goons with baseball bats in a bathroom, Werner Herzog enjoying the hell out of his role as a hammy criminal mastermind, and Cruise's unintentionally hilarious promise to drink the blood of an enemy from a boot, which is so over-the-top, it's practically an opera in and of itself. recommended

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