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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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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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