If you are a bibliophile, you’ve certainly heard of Lee Child. He’s a famous British novelist living in New York City who writes the Jack Reacher series of novels. Jack Reacher is 6’5″, 250 lbs, and blond. But Tom Cruise plays him better than anyone else possibly could.
It’s a bright and sunny day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when five people are shot on the waterfront by a sniper stationed across the river in a parking lot. The officer in charge is Emerson, who seems to be pretty bright. He finds a shell casing from the sniper, as well as a quarter in the parking meter. Both trace the cops back to James Barr. When Barr is arrested in his home, they find trace evidence on his clothes and shoes. What the police have is an airtight case.
The District Attorney, Rodin, is famous for getting confessions and proceeding to the penalty phase without trial. But Barr won’t confess. Instead, he scribbles on the pad that he is given a short message: GET JACK REACHER. Emerson traces Jack Reacher’s past and finds that he was formerly an Army MP who left the service and disappeared off the grid two years ago. No cell phone. No address. No job. A bank account that he seldom withdraws money from. No registered car. While Emerson and Rodin are pondering exactly how to find Jack Reacher, he shows up and asks to see Barr. But Barr is now in a coma because the cops put him in a bus with a bunch of felons who beat him almost to death. So Jack asks Rodin to see the evidence against Barr. He refuses. And they’re in this argument when Rodin’s daughter Helen appears. She’s Barr’s attorney. She isn’t trying to prove Barr is innocent; she’s trying to stop him from getting the death penalty. She charges in and accuses her father of talking to her client while he’s in a coma. Then she accuses him of trying to talk to Reacher. This has Jack somewhat fascinated, but not enough to stay. But she accompanies him on his walk to the bus stop and tries convincing him to stay and help her as her lead investigator. He’ll have complete access to the evidence and witnesses. That gets Jack interested.
They have lunch at a coffee shop and Jack tells Helen, under attorney-client privilege, how he knows Barr. Barr was a sniper in the Army who trained constantly but was never allowed to actually fire a single shot at a target. So after two years, he went a little nuts and shot four guys coming out of an Iraqi home. He was arrested and going to be convicted, until the Army discovered that the four men were “citizen mercenaries” in Iraq who were on a “rape rally”. I’m not sure which made me sicker, the act itself, or the fact that it’s so common there’s a name for it. These four men walked into an Iraqi home with no men present and raped the women aged 54 to 11. So Barr, who didn’t know this when he killed them, was set free. Without seeing the evidence, Jack is sure Barr is probably guilty. So is Helen. But he makes a deal with her anyway. Every day that he searches for proof that Barr didn’t do it, she must spend the day with the families of his victims and learn about them. This proves invaluable later on.
As Jack investigates the evidence, he discovers some really odd things that the sniper did which Barr, a trained Army sniper, would never do. First, he put money in a parking meter. Stupid. Second, he parked his van in the parking lot across the river so the sun was in his eyes and escape would take time. He could easily be cut off by police in the parking lot. A trained Army sniper would’ve parked on the highway bridge where the sun would’ve been at his back, where shell casings would’ve fallen in the van itself, and where he would have a quick getaway. Third, the victims would be truly random. As Helen talks to the victims’ families, she discovers that one of the victims was refusing to sell her property and on her way to a bank to secure a loan to keep the property. Two other victims were having an affair, unknown to their spouses. That proved to be a red herring. So follow the money, as Jack does.
Meanwhile, the Russians who are trying to buy up that property are finding ways to stop Jack. It’s just that none of them are working. First, they hire a thug to put him out of commission. The thug arranges for his girlfriend to hit on Jack. But Jack doesn’t do that. So instead she accuses him of calling her a hooker. Then her boyfriend pretends to be her brother, along with four more “brothers” and they take Jack outside to “set him straight”. Instead, Jack takes out the thug and his four men. The two who can still walk, run away, along with the girlfriend. Jack is arrested but then released. He immediately looks for the girlfriend who made the mistake of telling him where she worked. She gives him the thug’s address and Jack finds his place empty and the shower curtain torn right off its hangers. He’s attacked again, this time by two men with baseball bats who Jack leaves with broken bones. Next, the Russians kill the thug’s girlfriend and dump her body outside of Jack’s hotel, framing him for the murder. That’s the car chase you see in the trailer.
As things heat up and the Russians try killing Jack, he realizes that someone in the police is helping the Russians. They know too many things that only Helen, her father, and Emerson knew. So either District Attorney Rodin or Emerson is a mole for the Russians. Jack tells Helen to stop investigating the dead woman with the valuable property because she’ll be on the Russians’ hit list next. He also asks her to find a shooting range with 700 yards somewhere near the city since Barr’s gas receipts show him filling up every Saturday. Obviously, he was going somewhere.
Helen gives Jack the address, but doesn’t take his advice and keeps digging on the property and the Russian company that’s trying to take it over. She also goes to her father and tells him there’s a mole. He doesn’t believe her and she’s kidnapped on the way to her car. Yep, by the Russians and Emerson, who is the mole.
Meanwhile, Jack goes to the shooting range and meets Cash, the owner. Cash puts the highest scores on the wall and several are missing. Jack assumes they were Barr’s. Cash is former Marine and the two strike up a friendship based on their military experience. Jack has to prove he’s a brilliant sniper and Cash shows him the old targets. Testosterone, testosterone. But Jack tells Cash that Barr was never that brilliant of a shooter and it’s more likely that Barr came with a buddy and that buddy got the great scores so that some day after the shootings, the cops would show up and assume he was there honing his skills to randomly kill five people in Pittsburgh. Cash shows him the surveillance videotapes and Jack identifies the guy who’s been following him around. The real sniper.
Right after Jack leaves the target range, he gets the call from the Russians about Helen. Jack is no one’s fool. He shows up with Cash as his backup and takes out pretty much everyone including the sniper. When he gets close to the Russian mob boss, who is bragging that he’ll be out of jail before Jack can get on his next bus, Jack executes him. Good. Helen doesn’t press charges against Jack, which would’ve ruined the ending, but she does interview Barr when he wakes up. She asks him how he would’ve shot the intended target and the four random targets. And what he describes matches Jack’s scenario perfectly. An Army sniper wouldn’t have killed the four innocent victims to cover up the real intended target. Jack gets on a bus out of town, hears a guy in the back beating his girlfriend, and walks to the back of the bus to take care of things. Typical Jack.
Although the film is called Jack Reacher, this particular plot came from Lee Child’s ninth book in the Jack Reacher series, called One Shot. Ten out of ten stars. I love it when the good guy wins and the bad guy is dead. No trial. No sleazy escape. Just dead.
Jack Reacher Movie Trailer
So I have this plug-in that tells me exactly what people searched for when they arrive at my site and there seem to be a lot of people wondering about the significance of the quarter in this film. Let me give my humble opinion.
James Barr was a trained sniper. He trained so many thousands of hours that shooting became muscle reflex. Reacher is also a trained sniper with thousands of hours. Why would a trained sniper, if by some miracle he was stupid enough or lapse enough to choose that position to fire from (with the sun in his eyes), put a quarter in the meter? Seriously? A trained sniper would never do that. But a cop planting evidence would. Which is why Reacher told Emerson that he shouldn’t have planted the quarter–it was the one piece of evidence that was planted that didn’t fit. For someone like Reacher, who will work at the puzzle until every piece fits, one piece that doesn’t fit is enough to keep him investigating until he gets at the truth.