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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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Bede the Venerable: Bede is one of the few saints honored as such even during his lifetime. His writings were filled with such faith and learning that even while he was still alive, a Church council ordered them to be read publicly in the churches. 
<p>At an early age Bede was entrusted to the care of the abbot of the Monastery of St. Paul, Jarrow. The happy combination of genius and the instruction of scholarly, saintly monks produced a saint and an extraordinary scholar, perhaps the most outstanding one of his day. He was deeply versed in all the sciences of his times: natural philosophy, the philosophical principles of Aristotle, astronomy, arithmetic, grammar, ecclesiastical history, the lives of the saints and, especially, Holy Scripture.</p><p>From the time of his ordination to the priesthood at 30 (he had been ordained deacon at 19) till his death, he was ever occupied with learning, writing and teaching. Besides the many books that he copied, he composed 45 of his own, including 30 commentaries on books of the Bible. </p><p>Although eagerly sought by kings and other notables, even Pope Sergius, Bede managed to remain in his own monastery till his death. Only once did he leave for a few months in order to teach in the school of the archbishop of York. Bede died in 735 praying his favorite prayer: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As in the beginning, so now, and forever.” </p><p>His <i>Ecclesiastical History of the English People</i> is commonly regarded as of decisive importance in the art and science of writing history. A unique era was coming to an end at the time of Bede’s death: It had fulfilled its purpose of preparing Western Christianity to assimilate the non-Roman barbarian North. Bede recognized the opening to a new day in the life of the Church even as it was happening.</p> American Catholic Blog The truth is that suffering can be a beautiful thing, if we have the courage to trust God with everything, like Jesus did upon the cross.

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