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Wham! Nostalgia hits with more force than the impacting locomotives in Jack Reacher, the new B-grade 80’s-like action flick starring Tom Cruise as a modern day justice-seeking paladin in a cool leather jacket.

The “man-with-no-name” archetype is a snug-fit for Mr. Cruise whose Jack Reacher, an adaptation of Lee Child's macho-novel hero, is perhaps a bigger babe-magnet than most of the males in Pittsburg.

As if drenched in the Axe-effect, Jack’s sex pheromone has women weak-kneed around him – which I am pretty sure has more to do with Mr. Cruise's personal magnetism than Jack's. The image of swooning females, however, is distracting, because Jack's here on serious bone-breaking business (perhaps, as serious as any Steven Seagal movie).

A sniper picks and guns down five random people –including a baby's nanny –in broad daylight. A brief (un-sci-fi) CSI investigation later, a suspect (Joseph Sikora), is nabbed, who scribbles down “Get Jack Reacher” in large block letters, and then ends up in a coma.

“Who is Jack?” – the question comes up more often than any dialogue in the movie; and that too in a variety of spins.

A sketchy bio tells us that Jack is ex-military, without a fixed postal address (and near as I can tell, no Facebook account or cell phone with GPRS); he's like a hard to pin down vigilante from the West – one who discards old-clothes on the run and prefers to pick up his cheques via Western Union.

Some brief head-scratching follows –“You don't find this guy unless he wants to be found”, someone tells us.

This, however, is the least of the film’s mysteries, as Jack himself walks in and introduces himself to the district attorney (Richard Jenkins) and the lead detective (David Oyelowo) handling the case.

Ok, so Jack’s here…what do we do now? Apparently, almost hand him the case.

Jack – who has a more sensible noggin – is as clueless as anyone within or outside the movie screen; and this includes his co-lead played by Rosamund Pike, the all-for-law lawyer who is also the district attorney's partially-estranged daughter.

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Ms. Pike, whose teasers and trailers tell us she will have a damsel-in-distress moment later in the movie, is awkwardly directed by writer and director Christopher McQuarrie (writer of Valkyrie, also starring Mr. Cruise). For Jack Reacher, Ms. Pike is limited to perform two not so distinct modes of expression: One – to stare dumb founded during the movie's (never amped up) drama sequences; and Two – to go googly-eyed when she's alone with Jack (especially when Mr. Cruise has a Salman Khan shirtless moment).

Jack Reacher is a drag that offloads a bulk of its weight on Mr. Cruise's star-power. While Mr. Cruise has a firm handle on Jack (and not an original one, might I add), it’s the rest of the film – the setting, the pace, the drama, even the ever dependent cinematography by Caleb Deschanel that needs urgent patch work.

A late bit by Robert Duvall shines up the last 30 minutes, as does the brief bit by Alexia Fast, who plays Sandy, a young and easy girl with a small-town mentality. Not only is Ms. Fast in-tune with the aimless typicality of her character, she is also a springboard who partially winds-up Jack for his climatic villain killing spree.

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We know that the guy in the coma is a patsy (aren’t they always though), and Jack will beat himself a bloody path of mangled arms and dented fenders getting to the film's stereotypical villain played by Werner Herzog (with one stone eye nonetheless).

Seeing Mr. Cruise's lively action moves the villain should just pack-up and leave early – a thought the movie’s audience might find tempting as well, if only the ticket prices weren’t so darn expensive.

Released by Paramount Pictures and Footprint Media, Jack Reacher is rated PG-13 – Parents strongly cautioned; B-movie tedium – and the future promise of a sequel – awaits.

Mohammad Kamran Jawaid has been professionally critiquing movies for a while now – say more or less ten years, exclusively for Dawn. About 400 reviews and features later (he stopped counting a long time ago), not being as young as he was before, he still feels the urge to write for another couple of centuries.

Despite living movies 24/7 (his company (http://kamranjawaid.com) helps filmmakers make movies), he is still truly, madly, deeply in love with cinema; the root cause of this anomaly requires further clinical trials. His twitter (http://twitter.com/kamranjawaid) reveals very little about him, other than him being the Senior Film Critic for Dawn.com.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (11)

Muba Khan
January 3, 2013 9:16 pm
You don't think it sounded just a little weird when a multimillionaire single dude invites kids to sleepover at his house over and over again?
junaid khan
January 7, 2013 12:28 pm
Nicely written review..... and am not gonna watch this movie :(
ankit
January 4, 2013 5:22 pm
leave Jack Reacher watch table no 21 which is exeptional movie of Rajeev Khandelwal
JAYpp
January 3, 2013 1:00 pm
and i was looking forward to watching the movie tomorrow
Kellie
January 3, 2013 1:33 pm
Nostalgia. lol. So that was what Tom cruise was feeling. MI4 is followed by Rock of Ages and then this. this is rich.
JAYpp
January 3, 2013 1:02 pm
i will watch anyway for tom cruise. everyone online says he's good
hashim
January 3, 2013 1:22 pm
great movie. better then hobbit and any other movie this christmas. but there ia lobby who is constantly working against cruise since 2005. there main objective is to make his every film flop even before its release by sending negative comments on all his article on social media and defame the actor. and they are so desperate abt it.but most of public who knows tht this propoganda will not last. he was the biggest star of the world before 2005 and still he is the best.so if you see negative comments on social media against tom or any of his movies in future. u have to remember they are frm same little group of people who is desperately trying to defame him
hashim
January 3, 2013 1:27 pm
they were the same people who destroyed the career of great michael jackson when he raised his voice against evil corporations of the world through his songs. they indulged him in evil cases agianst him in courts. while he proved innocent in all of them. but they destroyed his reputation in the eyes of his millions innocent fans. who not even for single minute realized that their star was innocent. and finaly depression he suffered through these cases took his life.
Sam Singlar
January 3, 2013 12:46 pm
Two things I couldn't agree with more: 1) "Seeing Mr. Cruise’s lively action moves the villain should just pack-up and leave early – a thought the movie’s audience might find tempting as well, if only the ticket prices weren’t so darn expensive" and No. 2) "rated PG-13 – Parents strongly cautioned; B-movie tedium – and the future promise of a sequel – awaits". Wasted opportunity and wrong career choice for Cruise.
rafique b
January 5, 2013 9:31 pm
I should have followed my instincts and did what the last line of the review says and saved some money :(
Irene Barney Gardner
January 9, 2013 9:17 pm
As an avid Jack Reacher fan, I was absolutely rabid when I learned that Tom Cruise was going to play the part. I mean Reacher is 6' 7" and Tom is maybe 5'8". However, I laid down the bucks and went to the movie, last night. Tom's acting has over come the heighth issue and great filming did the rest. Way to go, Tom, and the approval by the writer for going with acting ability rather than true to heighth. Irene
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