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Entertainment & Lifestyle

‘Jack Reacher’ not worthwhile movie

1/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Rosamund Pike and Tom Cruise star in “Jack Reacher.”
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
“Jack Reacher,” starring Tom Cruise and written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, is a by-the-numbers action flick, short on logic but high in body count. It’s based on the book “One Shot,” one of 17 Reacher books written by Lee Child.

The movie begins with a disquieting scene that recalls tragic recent events. A sniper opens fire on passers-by in a park in front of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ ballpark. Moments later, five people are dead, including a nanny who was trying to keep safe a small child.

A former Iraqi War vet, James Barr (Joseph Sikora), is charged with the crime, and the wealth of evidence pointing to Barr seems to make it an open-and-shut case. But that’s before the arrival on the scene of Jack Reacher (Cruise), a no-nonsense former military investigator with the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes and the lethal fighting skills of a dozen Chuck Norris clones. Reacher, as played by Cruise, is all steely attitude, with the self-confidence of someone who’s one step ahead (or maybe five script pages ahead) of everyone else.

The evidence against Barr doesn’t add up in Reacher’s mind, so he agrees to work for Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike). Rodin is Barr’s lawyer and, coincidentally, the daughter of the invincible district attorney (Richard Jenkins). The London-born Pike perfects an American accent for Rodin, but her scenes with Cruise are about as real and gripping as you’d find in an old episode of “Mannix.”

It’s not giving too much away to say that, yes, Barr was framed, and the people behind the killings aren’t happy that Reacher is poking his nose where it doesn’t belong. It’s best not to think too hard about the frame up. For it to be successful, a whole lot of things need to go right (which, miraculously, they do.) And why would they go through the trouble of the frame-up at all if, as one character chillingly says, the shooter could have gotten away with it easily just by slightly altering his plan?

But that’s the kind of movie it is. It’s the kind of movie with obligatory bar fights and car chases, and with a damsel-in-distress ending that won’t win points for originality. It’s the kind of movie where Reacher will drop his gun and fight a baddie “mano a mano,” not having to wonder if other baddies with guns are nearby. Why doesn’t he worry? Well, he’s Jack Reacher.

In small roles are Robert Duvall, playing a crusty owner of an Ohio gun range, and director Werner Herzog, who plays a villain known as “The Zec.” (For further proof of Herzog’s skills as an actor, catch his work on the “Simpsons” episode where he plays a pharmaceutical scientist who, as a child, was golden-ticket-recipient Augustus Gloop). Also playing a supporting role is the attractive city of Pittsburgh, which is shown in a fine light. Shame it’s not in a better movie.

The movie, currently in theaters, is rated PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material.

HH (out of four)


Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.

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