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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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Apollonia: The persecution of Christians began in Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Philip. The first victim of the pagan mob was an old man named Metrius, who was tortured and then stoned to death. The second person who refused to worship their false idols was a Christian woman named Quinta. Her words infuriated the mob and she was scourged and stoned. 
<p>While most of the Christians were fleeing the city, abandoning all their worldly possessions, an old deaconess, Apollonia, was seized. The crowds beat her, knocking out all of her teeth. Then they lit a large fire and threatened to throw her in it if she did not curse her God. She begged them to wait a moment, acting as if she was considering their requests. Instead, she jumped willingly into the flames and so suffered martyrdom.</p><p>There were many churches and altars dedicated to her. Apollonia is the patroness of dentists, and people suffering from toothache and other dental diseases often ask her intercession. She is pictured with a pair of pincers holding a tooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her necklace. St. Augustine explained her voluntary martyrdom as a special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, since no one is allowed to cause his or her own death.</p> American Catholic Blog We can find Christ among the despised, voiceless, and forgotten of the world. We have to move beyond that which we wish to ignore and forget about: embrace the seemingly un-embraceable, love the unlovable, and dare to know what we most fear and wish to leave unknowable.

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