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HOME MOVIES

By Karen Martin

This article was published May 10, 2013 at 3:13 a.m.

tom-cruise-is-the-indestructible-title-character-in-jack-reacher-a-fi-lm-based-on-lee-childs-novel-one-shot

Tom Cruise is the indestructible title character in Jack Reacher, a fi lm based on Lee Child’s novel One Shot.

Jack Reacher, Directed by Christopher McQuarrie (PG-13, 130 minutes)

When an obviously competent and extremely cold-blooded assailant takes five lives in downtown Pittsburgh, all evidence directly aims at quickly apprehended former Army sniper James Barr. On interrogation, the suspect, otherwise mute, offers a single hand-written phrase: “Get Jack Reacher!”

That’s our introduction to a cool, efficient, no-nonsense former military investigator (played by Tom Cruise). His background, experience and extraordinary memory make him an essential participant in the defense of the accused led by defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), the daughter of district attorney Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins). Dear old dad, despite their estranged relationship, warns Helen to stay clear of the case, which has to mean something in terms of plot development, doesn’t it?

Cruise, despite being about a foot shorter than the looming character of Reacher as described in the best-selling series of novels by Lee Child, makes up for his size with a menacing glower, enhanced physicality and that elusive charm that pulls him through films he has no business being in.

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie (who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for 1995’s The Usual Suspects), the film combines brute force with a just complicated enough plot. There’s gorgeous cinematography by Caleb Deschanel, a stimulating chase scene, and a chillingly evil character played by Werner Herzog, who handles it masterfully.

“Who doesn’t thrill to the notion of a righteous lone ranger wandering the back roads and alleys of America, beholden to no man, corporation or government?” says critic Kat Murphy on the website MSN Movies. “Such rootless isolators are as old as James Fenimore Cooper’s Deerslayer, as urban as Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, as modern as Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, former Army cop, now one-man justice league.”

The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes an in-depth look at Reacher’s journey to the screen, a look at the training and stunt choreography behind the fight sequences, an exploration of the Reacher phenomenon around the world with author Child, and commentaries by Cruise, director McQuarrie and composer Joe Kraemer. The film will also be available as a single-disc DVD.

The Grifters (R, 110 minutes) This wickedly intriguing 1990 crime thriller, directed by Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things), stars John Cusack as a small town con man whose loyalties, such as they are, veer between his estranged mother (Anjelica Huston) and his girlfriend (Annette Bening), both of whom know a thing or two about cons as well. “With a script from Donald Westlake, the picture is brisk and sleekly contoured, with a sophisticated sense of cynical fun,” says critic Hal Hinson in The Washington Post. “The line Westlake and Frears walk skirts the edge of parody; it’s the most puckish of film noirs. Their characters are scoundrels, but they have a hipster’s arrogance; they play the sucker for nobody, and the sneaky thrill here comes from watching them work the angles for the upper hand.”

Side Effects (R,106 minutes) This provocative thriller, directed by Steven Soderbergh, concerns Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), an attractive and successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (well played by Jude Law) that’s intended to treat anxiety has unexpected results. “One moment, we’re watching an enthralling expose of the modern pharmaceutical industry; the next we’re reeling from some well-timed mystery-thriller shocks,” says critic Jason Beston on the website Movie Talk. “And Soderbergh, aided by a sharp script and superb cast, wrong-foots us all the way.”

Funny Girl (G, 155 minutes) This musical biography, celebrating its release 45 years ago, stars Barbra Streisand in an Academy Award-winning role as comedian Fanny Brice, who makes a career for herself with the Ziegfield Follies in the 1920s while carrying on an intense relationship with dashing gambler Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif). The Blu-ray features two previously released vintage featurettes: “Barbra in Movieland,” a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, and “This Is Streisand,” chronicling the early years of the performer’s career.

“The fun is there whenever Streisand is, and that could be reason enough for reacquainting yourself with Funny Girl,” says critic Pete Howell in the Toronto Star.

The 1968 musical, which earned more than $52 million at the box office, was nominated for eight other Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Kay Medford), Best Original Song (“Funny Girl” by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill) and Best Score (Walter Scharf). The soundtrack includes classics like “My Man,” “Second Hand Rose,” “People,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “I’m the Greatest Star.” In 2005, Streisand’s opening line, “Hello Gorgeous,” was named No. 81 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes and the film itself ranked No. 16 on AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals list.

MovieStyle, Pages 37 on 05/10/2013

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