rating: 3.5In 1995, Christopher McQuarrie gave us a little film called The Usual Suspects which ultimately became his first (and only, to date) Oscar win. Flash-forward to 2012, and the man is now also sitting in the directors chair with a tensed-up, lightning fast Tom Cruise mechanically taking down the villainous duo of Werner Herzog and Jai Courtney in Jack Reacher. Its a tough call with Cruise. Hes an actor who, 99% of the time, is the best thing on screen in his films, even if the picture itself is less than gratuitously good. Hes been both the heavy lead and the small-part scene-stealer (2008s Tropic Thunder), so its really stopped becoming a question of if Cruise is going to be good in a film. Hes very much become a presence that embodies a character without fully committing to it; that mix of Robert Downey Jr.s monotonous-but-fantastic delivery with Brad Pitts magician-like persona that sort of molds into a specific character. Hes the actor you see the entire run-time, but hes also somehow convinced you that hes very much the character. And hes good here, as always. By all means, if Tom Cruise needed it, Jack Reacher does for Cruise what Taken did for Liam Neeson. As far as the rest of the cast goes, Herzog is a new shade of brilliance. The director, famous for his documentaries, is cruelly sedated and transfixed with purpose. Hes really delegated to do nothing but scowl and gutturally threaten those beneath him, but his transformation from bit-part to pack-leader is purely defined in presence, something most action movies attempt to do, but quickly scrap. And thats really both a testament to his unwavering and scary delivery and casting director Mindy Marins eye for talent. Pike, Courtney, Jenkins, and Duvall all turn in veteran performances without being too glossy or too melodramatic. Theyre a cast of perfect support for this film thats only major sufferance lies in scope. No one feels like theyre phoning it in, and no ones gunning for the Oscar. Its a film that very much knows its identity. However, its not above horrific one-liners and noticeable quick-frame-cuts in the hand-to-hand combat sequences. McQuarries film is more tell than show, and Reachers Sherlockian method of crime scene analyzing feels more made-for-TV-special than it does cinematic. Theres hardly any breathing room for the audience to connect to the story, rarely a time for viewers to put two-and-two together for themselves, and really ends up feeling like a blown up CSI special where you arent left with stimulating questions or a desire to return to the case. Its an open-and-shut movie that looks like a four-course meal but feels like a spoon-fed breakfast. It doesnt leave you hungry; just waiting eagerly for lunch.The humor isnt as inflammatory or off-the-wall as McQuarries Suspects and often falls flat on its face. Theres only so much any actor can do with lines like, My birthday is in October, so you thats how long youve got to talk. 1234 while attempting to negotiate with a primary baddie. Cruise wears the role as well as he does his jackets, so even when that dialogue falls out of his face, its still threatening. Its idiotic sounding and contrived, but threatening. Its an elevated action flick because its drenched in the old-school, flashy style that make films like Dirty Harry and Bullit so endearing, but its never so smart that it meets The Usual Suspects standards, and its never so fun that it feels like Taken. Is it worth a view? Go in expecting a better-than-average Tom Cruise kick-ass thriller and you wont be disappointed. One level down from the action and investment of the Bourne trilogy, one level above The Transporters in intelligence and style and youve got your Jack Reacher.