“Who are you, Mister?” a young woman asks Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), and it’s a question that recurs, not always quite so politely, throughout the movie that bears Reacher’s name. He may be an elusive individual with a sketchy background — ex-military, no fixed address, a single shirt to his name — but as an archetype he is easy enough to recognize. He is a cousin of Shane and Caine (from the old “Kung Fu” television series) and Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name: a paladin without portfolio who travels from town to town, dispensing righteous violence and hard-boiled aphorisms.
After 15 years inhabiting the pages of Lee Child’s crime thrillers, Jack Reacher finally comes to life in the form of Tom Cruise.
“It’s just what guys like me do,” Reacher says wearily at one point, though he could say it at just about any point.