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So the big twist in Jack Reacher is essentially that the whole sniper routine was a setup to kill one specific individual, and the other victims were murdered as a distraction, so the police and media would focus exclusively on the killer—who was handed to them in a frame-up. It’s an awful lot of trouble to go to just to kill the owner of a small construction company in the hopes of acquiring it, especially given that in any remotely realistic situation, the sudden death of the sole owner of a business would probably tie up the business’ assets and legal ownership for a good long while.
But the only reason any of this seems remotely plausible is because of the thoroughly enjoyable presence of Werner Herzog as the ultimate villain behind the plot. He’s sadly underused, appearing in just a few scenes. (And he’s in one of the trailers, so his presence won’t be a surprise to every viewer.) But much as Christopher Walken can enliven any cheesy movie, Herzog brings a gravelly gravity to his ridiculous background as a former Russian prisoner who put out his own eye to escape the worst work detail, and chewed off his own fingers to evade frostbite. As much as McQuarrie seems to want Cruise to be the best thing about the film—and as much as the script tells us he is, over and over—Herzog is far more fun in his passive ineffectualness than Cruise is in his big show-offy anti-heroism. Too bad that even after he surrenders, even though he has no weapon, Cruise shoots him in the face, just to make sure he doesn’t get to enjoy the cushy comforts of an American prison.