Jack Reacher, the action thriller opens with the worst mass-murder to take place on Pittsburgh’s North Shore since the the English and French where battling over who owned this part of the world during the French and Indian war.  The opening carnage in this 2012 movie takes place along the Allegheny River, just outside of PNC Park. When the European powers went at it, there was a reason. They were at war, but all the evidence yielded from these movie murders indicate the work of a mad man, killing for the sake of killing.

The investigators of the murders believe they have and open-and-shut case. Even the lawyer for the accused killer doesn’t question his guilt, but only hopes that her client receives a fair trial as the evidence is overwhelming. The only thing in question is whether the accused killer will be sentenced to life in prison or receive the death penalty for his deeds. The only person who is not convinced of the accused’s guilt is a drifter, who is anything but a friend of the accused. However, the drifter wants to make sure that the guilty is punished, regardless of who they are. This drifter, who doesn’t even have a driver’s license, is Jack Reacher. Jack Reacher is a bad-ass.

The movie depicts how criminals will do whatever is necessary, no matter how vile or unthinkable, to achieve their twisted agenda. The only thing standing in the way is Jack Reacher, the guy that comes to Pittsburgh on a bus, lives in a motel, has one shirt, and a big attitude. He’s a guy with his own sense of right and wrong, good and evil. His unimposing stature does not drive fear into his opponents, but his abilities, attitude, and determination command attention.  Half way through the movie, you feel that if Mr. Reacher doesn’t achieve his goals he’ll be killed and buried on some Pittsburgh hillside, and if he is successful, his reward will be to catch the next bus out of town.

Tom Cruise leads a top-notch cast charged with bringing Lee Child’s book One Shot to the big screen. A few of the actors that joined Mr. Cruise in making this film include Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, and Robert Duval.

This crime drama stands apart from most others in this genre. The action in this movie feels real.  I’m sure computer graphics are part of this film and just about every major work being produced today. But when watching this film any computer enhanced scenes, if there are any, are done seamlessly.   While being drawn into the story I was appalled by the violence, amused by the dialogue, and appreciated the look of the city.  No fake looking computer made enhancements sidetracked the tone of this film.

The plot has a logical flow, but you do have to convince yourself that it’s normal to see a parking meter inside a parking garage. One of the most exciting scene was a car chase that was not part of Lee Child’s book. The chase lasted over five minutes, and I think most viewers will find the scene exciting. Pittsburgh fans will be impressed by the action and enjoy seeing how the city provides a backdrop for these scenes. Tom Cruise did all his own stunt driving, so instead of the filming team having to take angles so the real driver can’t be seen, their job was to make sure to select the angles that would ensure Tom Cruse can be seen driving in this action-packed portion of the film.

Before the movie was ever released, it met with criticism for several reasons. First, Tom Cruise does not have the same physical stature as the fictional character Jack Reacher possesses. Some of Reacher’s readers were livid about that. Second, it appears that Tom Cruise garners a lot of negative press just for being Tom Cruise. I haven’t read any of the Jack Reacher stories yet, and I have not taken up any of my day by following tales about how Tom Cruise is spending his time on this earth. As a result, I was able to grab a box of popcorn and enjoy the film unhindered.

By Tom Pollard