Based on a novel I haven't read and know nothing about, this is Christopher McQuarrie's long overdue directorial follow-up to The Way of the Gun.
Jack Reacher is a drifter, loner, and former U.S. Army Military Police Corps officer who is called in to investigate a seemingly open-and shut case of a military trained sniper who shot and killed 5 random innocents. What happens though, is far from routine, as things are not as they appear, and there's a conspiracy afoot.
It seems like this is a typical mystery thriller, but, due to the direction, this is elevated and becomes something better than average. From what I've read, as an adaptation, the film is serviceable and gets the gist, but fails to deliver the goods in terms of character development, motivation, and plot specifics. I can see that. Yeah, the film is underwhelming with some of the plot developments and substance.
I should be harsher on this for those reasons alone, but, and this is key: the pacing is perfect, and, even though the film is skeletal with some stuff, what you get is just enough to get the point across, and get the job done. How this becomes a negative is that the characters and plot are intriguing, so that's why is sucks we don't get more of them.
Another thing that elevates all this is the execution. It's PG-13, but this film is still gritty, thrilling, and delivers the goods in a satisfying and entertaining way. There's lots of suspense, the car chase is awesome (yay for practical effects and naturalism), and the performances are pretty solid too. Cruise is effective and believable, and he's enjoyable to watch. Jenkins, Pike, and Duvall are fine, given the limitations, and then there's Werner Herzog as the heavy. It's a shame they failed to use him for maximum effect, but holy god, is it great when he's onscreen...especially when he gives a creepy monologue. I think that scene and the car chase might be the two best moments here, though the opening shooting scene is great, too.
All in all, yeah, this is flawed, but it's decent enough. I was never bored, its well made, and it gets a lot right, so give it a shot. It's just unfortunate that McQuarrie isn't directing (or writing, really) as much as he should be, because he's a real talent.