Under the Radar

'Jack Reacher' Aims for the SEAL of Approval

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Jack Reacher is out today on Blu-ray and DVD. Based on Lee Child's wildly successful series of novels about a mysterious Army vet who roams the country using his military police skills to right wrongs and beat the hell out of bad guys. The book describe Jack as 6'5" and around 220 lbs., so a lot of readers were surprised when the movie version cast Tom Cruise (generously listed at 5'7" on the Internet) to play the role.

Director Christopher McQuarrie (who previously co-wrote the classic The Usual Suspects with director Bryan Singer and directed the underrated The Way of the Gun) made a movie that should win over the doubters. It's got enough action to appeal to the Jason Statham (or Charles Bronson, depending on your generation) action crowd but adds a level of wit and intelligence most action pictures don't make the effort to achieve.

One of the director's secret weapons is his brother, former Navy SEAL Doug McQuarrie, who worked as the weapons technical advisor on Jack Reacher. Doug also advised his brother on The Way of the Gun, so they've long had a successful working relationship. This clip from the bonus documentaries describes Doug's role in making sure the climactic shootout at the rock quarry looks as realistic as possible.

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The movie is based on the novel One Shot and really uses its Pittsburgh locations to great effect: the movie is definitely set in western Pennsylvania and  the detailed and obvious use of location is a big plus to this movie. (Compare that to the dozens of current movies that use Georgia locations as Anywhere, USA and never use the local character to the movie's advantage.) Tom Cruise really gets into this role: even if he's not the Jack Reacher you were looking for, he commits 100% to the role and he's the best he's been in a film since at least Minority Report.

There are currently eighteen books in the Reacher series, so there's plenty of source material for a McQuarrie/Cruise sequel if Jack Reacher finds the audience it deserved on DVD after a so-so theatrical run.

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November is Military Family Appreciation Month