After accomplishing the assignment of dismantling a human trafficking organization, the former military and drifter Jack Reacher goes to Washington to invite his liaison, Major Susan Turner, to have dinner with him. However, he meets her substitute, Colonel Sam Morgan, who explains that Major Turner has been arrested and accused of espionage. Jack seeks out her veteran lawyer, Colonel Bob Moorcroft, who explains that Major Turner has also been accused of the murders of two soldiers in Afghanistan. Further, he also tells Jack he is being sued, accused by a woman of being the father of her fifteen year-old daughter, Samantha. When Moorcroft is murdered, Jack is accused of being the killer and sent to a prison. He sees that Turner and he have been framed and also that Turner will be killed by two assassins. However, he rescues her and they flee. Soon, they realize that there is a conspiracy involving military people from the army and a government contractor that is a powerful arms dealer. Jack also learns that Samantha is in danger and Turner and he rescue her. They decide to protect her since a skilled assassin is hunting them down while they try to find the motive of the conspiracy. Who can be trusted?
A small crowd of people is gathered outside a diner. The police arrive and find four men on the ground beaten up. An onlooker tells the cops that one man took them all on and beat them down within seconds. Sheriff Raymond Wood (Jason Douglas) and his deputy enter the diner to find Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) sitting by the counter with some blood on his face. Wood cuffs Reacher and prepares to take him away until Reacher says that in 90 seconds, the phone will ring, and Wood will be wearing the cuffs on his way to jail for kidnapping and selling undocumented immigrants on military soil. The phone rings, and Wood answers, giving his name. Seconds later, military police cars pull up and arrest Wood.Later, Reacher speaks on the phone with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who helped him capture Wood and is surprised to find Major S. Turner is female. He calls back a few times while traveling about and finally mentions he probably owes her a dinner. She agrees, asking when he will be in D.C. and he tells her he will be there, eventually.Reacher arrives at the military HQ and finds Col. Morgan (Holt McCallany) sitting at Major Turner's desk. Morgan informs Reacher that Turner has been arrested for possible espionage. Reacher speaks to Sgt. Leach (Madalyn Horcher) to learn who has been assigned as Major Turner's attorney. Sgt. Leach informs Reacher she has been ordered to not give out any information on Major Turner's case. Reach then asks what attorney Sgt. Leach would recommend to her D.I. if he needed one. Catching on, she quickly recommends Col. Moorcroft.Reacher finds Col. Moorcroft (Robert Caprini) and asks about Major Turner. Moorcroft tells him they found a hard-drive in her house with classified information on it. He, then, brings up a paternity suit filed against the military that claims that Reacher is the father to a daughter from a woman named Candice Dutton. When Reacher asks him what the Major has to says, Col. Moorcroft informs Reacher he hasn't been allowed to see her yet. Reacher leaves and tells Moorcroft to get back to him when he remembers what his uniform stands for.Moorcroft has a change of heart and gives Reacher a file on two soldier, Cibelli (M. Serrano) and Mirkovich (Nicole Barre), who were both murdered at close range in Afghanistan, and it is believed that Turner was involved in their deaths. From a distance, Reacher is being watched by a man known only as The Hunter (Patrick Heusinger).Reacher follows his supposed daughter Samantha (Danika Yarosh). After a while, Sam catches on and calls Reacher out for following her. He asks Sam if she is Candice's daughter. Sam thinks Reacher wants her mother due to the knowledge of Candice's previous job as a prostitute. Sam walks away from Reacher.The Hunter finds Moorcroft in his home and brutally beats him to find out what information he gave to Reacher before killing him.Reacher returns to the HQ to find Morgan, a few officers, and a lawyer named Lt. Sullivan (Jessica Stroup) waiting for him. Reacher is accused of killing Moorcroft in his home. He is then taken into custody.When Reacher is detained, he spots some men arriving, knowing they're there to kill him and Turner. He asks Lt. Sullivan to get him a sandwich and then escapes. He takes down an officer named Espin (Aldis Hodge) and takes his uniform before heading over to Turner's cell. Sure enough, the men are there to kill her. Reacher takes them all down and gets Turner out of there. They are both spotted and chased out by the officers. They make their getaway by stealing a police car.Reacher and Turner get Morgan in his house after realizing he's involved in the scheme. They get their information out of him and leave. Later, The Hunter shows up at Morgan's home and beats him to death with his phone since he knows Reacher's prints are on the phone.He contacts Leach and secretly asks her for help. She informs Reacher that Morgan was murdered and that Reacher's prints were on the phone. Looking through more of the information form Col. Morgan's computer, Major Turner finds surveillance photos, including some of Sam. He and Turner go to Sam's foster home and find her foster parents have been murdered. Sam bursts out from under the kitchen sink with a knife in self-defense. Reacher and Turner calm her down and take her away.Reacher and Turner take Sam to a private school, Pembroke, for her protection, since Turner has a connection there. As Sam talks to some of the schoolgirls, she pulls out a phone, which she told Reacher and Turner that she left back at the house. The two pull her away and decide they need to get out of there, and they throw Sam's phone away to remain undetected.Reacher gets a call from Leach with information on a man named Daniel Prudhomme, a specialist in Afghanistan that saw Cibelli and Mirkovich get killed. Leach also mentions a company called Parasource, which is a private military firm. The three make plans to head to New Orleans to find Prudhomme. Sam gets out a credit card from a bag she stole from one of the schoolgirls so that they can buy their plane tickets.On the plane, Reacher spots two contractors from Parasource on the plane. He beats them unconscious and gets information off their phones. On the rest of the plane ride, Reacher pretends to sleep as he overhears Sam talking to Turner about who her father could be.In New Orleans, while riding a bus, Reacher comes clean to Sam that it's possible he's her father, and that's why she's being hunted along with him and Turner. She doesn't believe Reacher's claims until he mentions that Candice filed the paternity suit.Reacher and Turner find Prudhomme (Austin Hebert) in an abandoned building full of junkies after getting tipped off by Prudomme's wife, who hasn't seen him in months. Turner interrogates Prudhomme and he tells them what he knew about Cibelli and Mirkovich's deaths, as well as what he knows on Parasource.Reacher and Turner get in touch with Espin and have him speak to Prudhomme to learn the truth. As Espin is escorting Prudhomme out, they are ambushed by assassins. Prudhomme is shot and killed, and Reacher jumps in to fight and kill the villains. Reacher also protects Espin, and they manage to get away.Reacher, Turner, and Espin meet up with other military officers at a base to confront General Harkness (Robert Knepper), the CEO of Parasource. Turner accuses him of selling arms to insurgents, and that the cases he and his men are unloading are empty. Some cases are opened but, to Maj Turner's surprise, they actually contain arms. As she is about to be arrested, Reacher goes to an open case and finds opium hidden in the arms, leading to Harkness's arrest. Moments later, Reacher gets a call from The Hunter, saying he is going after Sam after she called for room service and used one of her stolen credit cards and it gets flagged.Reacher and Turner race back to the hotel to save Sam. Sam sees The Hunter and his goons going down the street during a Halloween parade, so she escapes the room. The villains chase her through the streets with Reacher and Turner trying to catch up to them. They kill The Hunter's goons before facing him on the roof. The Hunter has Sam held at gunpoint and threatens to throw her off. Reacher drops his gun and kicks it to The Hunter, leaving Sam with an opportunity to grab The Hunter's gun out of his hand (as Turner taught her earlier). Reacher tackles The Hunter off the roof. They fight a little while longer until Reacher breaks The Hunter's neck and throws him off another ledge.With her name cleared, Turner is reinstated to her old position. She and Reacher promise to keep in touch and make dinner plans.Sam later finds Reacher in a diner. He is ready to find out whether or not she really is his daughter, but Sam determines that she's not, since Candice was serving Reacher coffee, and the two of them did not recognize each other. Later, the two bid each other farewell. Sam tearfully hugs Reacher and slips a phone into his pocket.The film concludes with Reacher hitching for a ride down the road. He gets a text from the phone from Sam that asks, "Miss me yet?" He smiles and sticks his thumb out.