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December 21, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

You’d think that there would be a built-in fan base for Jack Reacher. Not just among Tom Cruise loyalists, but also among the followers of Lee Child’s best-selling crime novels. But while many moviegoers have been willing to forgive Cruise for the couch jumping and Scientology preaching, the Reacher fans have not been willing to forgive him for being short. In Child’s books, Reacher is a blond, 6’5″ lumbering, dour presence. Cruise, say the critics, has the dour down, but there is little else he can do to recreate Child’s iconic character. Cruise, at 5’7″, “is a 50-year-old testament to the miracles of Botox but in no way resembles Jack Reacher. Welcome to the movies,” snarks Rex Reed in the New York Observer. His take on the movie as a whole: “Grim, violent and stupid.” Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times notes that Reacher is “a great character, but one that doesn’t suit Cruise. In Reacher’s case size matters — it’s integral to the way he wins the day.” But Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune disagrees. As for the difference in size, he writes, “It doesn’t bug me. Whatever. It’s just a few inches. It’s not like casting Gollum in Magic Mike or something.” A.O. Scott in the New York Times also disagrees — sort of. “The self-confident, supercompetent Reacher is a character Mr. Cruise could play in his sleep, which is pretty much what he does,” he writes. No matter, says Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News. “He doesn’t turn in his finest work, frankly, but he’s still a solid presence who holds together an otherwise generic thriller.” What many of the critics find most uncomfortable is the film’s wholesale violence. (It begins with a sniper taking aim at random human targets, including a child.) The Tribune‘s Phillips, for example, remarks. “The truth is, we cannot drain a moviegoing experience of its context. Jack Reacher is not an easy movie to enjoy at this particular moment. Not in the wake of the Newtown, CT school killings and the 28 dead [including the shooter].” And Peter Howell writes in the Toronto Star: “There probably couldn’t be a worse timing for this film to open, unless it had been last Friday, the day the school shooting horror occurred. Who really wants to see something like this, right now?”