The film starts with an excellent action sequence, as five people, apparently at random, are shot by a sniper. A suspect, injured during arrest, asks for Jack Reacher, who arrives. At which point the audience for this film version of Lee Child's "One Shot" will divide into those who have read the book, and those who have not.
For those who have, there is a problem. Child describes Reacher as being 6 foot 5 inches tall, and built like a weigh-lifter. And the director has cast Tom Cruise, who is neither.
But the plot and the action move so rapidly and so convincingly that we are swept along by them. Even the fight scenes, where the diminutive Cruise takes on five muscle-bound thugs, and annihilates three of them, while the other two exit speedily are choreographed so expertly that we go along with the fantasy. The car chase is superbly photographed, and Cruise as stunt driver is totally convincing. This is edge of the seat stuff.
Robert Duvall has a lot of fun as an elderly gun shop owner, recruited into a gun fight against the baddies – who could have come from an early James Bond movie. Baddie Werner Hertzog talks about the time he chewed off his fingers to survive in a Siberian gulag and is somewhat puzzled when his victim is unable to do the same. Perhaps the James Bond movies are a good analogy for this film. We managed to accept Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig as very different James Bonds.
Tom Cruise, by the end of the film, has earned the right to be a very different Jack Reacher – and probably for numerous films.
A key question might be "Would I go to see the next one?". And the answer is an unqualified "Yes".