YMMV: Jack Reacher

The books:

  • Complete Monster:
    • The Visitor note : The killer, a cold-blooded Diabolical Mastermind, turns out to be FBI Profiler Julia Lamarr, who uses her position to cover up her crimes. The killer murders at least four women (and is in the process of murdering another when stopped by Reacher) by hypnotizing them to swallow their own tongues, leaving them to suffocate slowly to death and leaving no evidence. One victim, as well as the true target, was Lamarrís stepsister, who was chosen to receive Juliaís fatherís inheritance, even though she was going to share it with Lamarr, who only cares about herself and revels in her intelligence throughout the process.
    • The Hard Way: Edward Lane is the psychotic, Control Freak head of an illegal mercenary operation, and the real Big Bad of the story. In the past, he murdered his first wife to keep her from divorcing him (and demanding alimony), framed one of his own soldiers for it, used his mercenary operation to rob a country's national bank, and betrayed two soldiers of his own to a gang of African militias known to mutilate their prisoners. Also, he promised to use a potato peeler to rupture the hymen of his then-five-year-old daughter if he so much as thinks his second wife, Kate, is being unfaithful. In the present, Kate, having been informed about what happened in the past by a relative of the betrayed soldier, arranges a kidnapping with her paramour Taylor, a Token Good Teammate in Lane's mercenary op, with the understanding that if she tries to legally divorce Lane, Lane will just murder her. At the climax of the story, he rounds up Kate, his daughter Jade, Taylor, and Taylor's brother to be executed, but when he notices Kate is now pregnant with Taylor's baby, he stops from killing her right away and instead ties her up on a barn table to manually abort her. Finally, when Reacher kills one of his goons, the goon is carrying a potato peeler.
    • Worth Dying For: Jacob Duncan runs a rural Nebraska farmer town like a tinpot dictator straight out of Ruritania, along with his brothers Jonas and Jasper and his son Seth (who also beats his wife). They run a trucking business whose service they force upon every family in town. Anyone who refuses or disagrees with them would find themselves beaten up and their properties ruined by a gang of ex-college football players on the Duncansí payroll. The Duncans use this business to smuggle children and others from Asia to the heartland United States (and elsewhere) for sex trafficking. All of them are pedophiles who murder every child they've grown bored with and make a shrine and photographic memento of every corpse (there are about 60 in all, 2 or 3 every year). Even Reacher, a former MP who's seen all kinds of corpses himself, explicitly admits he regrets having taken a look at the barn where the Duncans hold these shrines.
    • Make Me: The man with the jeans and the hair lures suicidal people to the town of Mother's Rest, by offering them an illegal assisted suicide service which he advertises on the Deep Web. On the website he guarantees his client a completely painless death. However, once the clients are there, he and his goons capture them, and then murder them in front of the camera. It's a pay-per-view operation, and with extra charge customers are allowed to write their own script. Anyone snooping in their business would be murdered, either by themselves or by a gang of assassins on their payroll, who also go on to murder the snoopers' families to be certain nothing leaks. It is stated that he and his gang are responsible for 209 snuff videos, with titles such as Starved to Death, Pregnant and Bayoneted, Gut Shot, and Thin Man All Ribs Broken First. Categories included "Male victim, female victim, couples, young, old, black, white, cutting, stabbing, beating, power tools, extreme insertion, medical experiment, electricity, drowning, and shooting."
  • Fridge Brilliance: As a general rule, Reacher is in peak physical condition and at the top of his game. Which doesn't make sense, because he's technically retired. But he's naturally built very strongly, spends his days wandering about the country, sees action every time a story comes up, and and sometimes this is actually explicitly noted as not being enough.
  • Fridge Horror: At the end of Nothing To Lose, Reacher and his partner blow up the metal salvaging plant owned by the villain and his co-conspirators with their own bomb. It's poetic justice... until you consider that one of the side plots was the presence of a highly carcinogenic chemical and how small amounts of it are leeching into the water supply not to mention the main plotline that the villains were building a dirty bomb packed with depleted uranium. Congratulations, Reacher, for creating an environmental disaster site.
  • Marty Stu: Reacher can tend this way at times - it's particularly pronounced in those volumes of the series which are written in first person.
  • Padding: Child can get pretty obsessive about cataloging every single facet of a character's appearance, or a room, regardless of anything important to the story.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Reacher's romances with the Girls Of The Week are not exactly the most intriguing part of the series.
  • Tear Jerker: Reacher, when he finds out the cop and the witness he's befriended in 61 Hours have been murdered. It's one of the preciously rare moments where Reacher genuinely feels despair.

The film:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The accused sniper. Did he call Jack Reacher in because Even Evil Has Standards, as suggested by his partially guilt-driven breakdown upon waking up thinking he committed the crime? Or did he just want to ensure that his framers experienced Taking You with Me?
    • A bit of Meta-Alternate Interpretation. The book Jack Reacher swaggers around because he's a huge mountain of muscle. By making that character played by Tom Cruise, it comes off more as Jack Reacher is The Napoleon.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The movie starts with The Dragon sniping five innocent bystanders. Then came Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, forcing the movie to delay its red carpet premiere.
  • Narm: Might be the only time you'll hear someone in a modern film actually say, with no hint of irony, "I'm not a hero. I'm a drifter with nothing to lose."
  • Nightmare Fuel: Werner Herzog as the Zec manages to be completely terrifying despite not really doing anything but talk for the whole film. All he has to do is be himself, the Crazy Awesome director who seriously considered an offer to kill his lead actor, made a film on an active volcano, and ate one of his shoes.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Robert Duvall as the one guy in the world who can converse on Reacher's level.
  • Tainted by the Preview: Fans of the books were livid about Tom Cruise's casting, as he looks absolutely nothing like the Reacher of the books (most notably, Reacher is huge, and his size is often an important part of his characterization).
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • As stated above Tom Cruise was cast as a protagonist known for being a towering mountain of muscle. Not exactly what fans of the books were expecting.
    • Werner Herzog plays the Big Bad? Though that's probably the Intended Audience Reaction and more or less what the Big Bad was going for.