Monday, December 24, 2012

"Jack Reacher": another kind of military-police superman

It would appear that the character Jack Reacher, from a series of novels  by Lee Child (aka Jim Grant), could become another stereotyped genre franchise, this time for Paramount.  The screen adaptation is by Christopher McQuarrie.

The film by that character’s name  (based on the book “One Shot”) experienced a one-week release delay because of the tragedy in Connecticut, and once the film starts, you see why. 

Locking in his sights across the river in downtown Pittsburgh, a white male sniper knocks off random victims along a riverwalk.  It’s pretty sick stuff.  Soon, another white male, who may not be the same person, is in police custody, and asks that Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) be brought in; he also gets an attractive female defense attorney  Helen(Rosamund Pike).

Now Reacher was a military police investigator, now “retired” at age 50, but is pretty much still a kind of superman.  The suspect Barr (Joseph Sikora), according to Reacher, jointed the military for the “fourth” reason, to have a legal way to kill.  He spent his years in Iraq doing little, just waiting, until the clock ran out, even on George W. Bush.  I wonder if this sounds like a criticism of our  (post conscription) all-volunteer Army, that it would attract “universal soldiers” of that disposition.  (The main reason people join could be employment.  Yes, there is patriotism.)  If Charles Moskos were still alive, he would probably take note.
In time, and in somewhat convoluted fashion (the film runs 130 minutes), Reacher and Helen develop a conspiracy theory, involving a pork-barrel corporation, the district attorney (Richard Jenkins) who happens to be Ellen’s dad, a Bosnian export (Werner Herzog), and the real sharpshooter, handsome Australian actor Jai Courtney, whom we would rather see as a one of the NRA’s good guys.  Courtney looks familiar.

One of the most unsettling aspects of the conspiracy is that the plotters would "mask" their real target with several other randomly chosen targets, making the crime appear motiveness and random when it was not.  This theme has occurred before in one or two Hitchcock films and television series shows, however.
The movie turns on some car chases, including one involving driving the wrong way in the Fort Pitt Tunnel, and a nice part toward the end for Robert Duvall as Cash, operating a rifle range.  The climactic scene happens in a quarry, but it's made to look almost like a mountaintop removal mine.  

The official site is here.
Here’s the logo for Paramount’s 100th Anniversary.    
Paramount used the logo for the Soleil fim (yesterday) but today the film started right off with the music score by Joe Kraemer. 

Picture: Pirates ballpark, my visit in 2007.  

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