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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Jack Reacher

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Tom Cruise stars in a scene from the movie "Jack Reacher."
"Jack Reacher" (Paramount) begins with a sniper killing five people, including a woman holding a 7-year-old girl, and ends in a fusillade of semiautomatic rifle fire. Between those disturbing visuals, it's a reasonably compelling detective story.

The hero of the title (Tom Cruise) -- a man seemingly without a past -- discerns the innocence of the falsely accused shooter, uncovers the evil corporate plot behind the crime, and dispenses his own brand of rough justice in a dystopian Pittsburgh.

That's right, Pittsburgh. The man knows how to take the crosstown Squirrel Hill bus and navigate a high-speed chase in a muscle car across the Fort Duquesne Bridge without hitting a single pothole.

Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie has adapted Lee Child's novel "One Shot", ninth in the Reacher series. Reacher is a former military police officer who emerges from the shadows like a contemporary Shane, only by mass transit, not on horseback. He wisecracks in staccato bursts, and mostly defends himself with his fists, although he's an expert rifleman.

The troublesome aspect of the character is that he's an amoral avenger who prefers simply to kill rather than bring anyone before the justice system. This doesn't become clear until the end of the story.

The conspiracy's designated patsy is former military sniper James Barr (Joseph Sikora), who, conveniently for those working against him, spends most of the picture in a coma because he was viciously beaten on his way to jail. Before that, he knows just enough of his circumstances to ask for Reacher.

Reacher knows Barr's troubled history from Iraq, where the sniper had killed American soldiers who were returning from a "rape rally." He also figures out, with the help of Barr's lawyer Helen (Rosamund Pike) that, of the five victims in Pittsburgh, only one was the intended target; the other four were for distraction.

Helen is the daughter of district attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins), who may have a connection to the murder scheme.

Robert Duvall as Ohio gun store owner Cash fills in the rest of the plot points and is Reacher's backup in a nighttime quarry shootout.

"Who are you, mister, really?" asks Sandy (Alexia Fast), a young girl used by the bad guys to try to lure Reacher to his death. The audience never learns much more about the answer to that question than she does.

The film contains pervasive violence including gunplay, implied drug use and frequent profanity. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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