Christopher McQuarrie's film Jack Reacher, adapted from the Lee Child thriller, and set in Pittsburgh, starts with a bang. Well, a number of bangs, as a sniper picks off five folks strolling along the river by PNC Park. A man is arrested and an attorney (Rosamund Pilcher) is assigned; then a drifting stranger, a former Army MP named Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), arrives to sort out what really happened.
The story is pure pulp — some thinly sketched mystery about a troubled Army vet and a shadowy global crime syndicate into building construction. Add a hero who is 110 percent proficient in everything — from crime-scene analysis and hand-to-hand combat to quippy word play and hand-washing laundry — and Jack Reacher is some mildly entertaining junk food.
You're encouraged to stop by for the local color: Reacher was shot in Pittsburgh, and the city looks great, with plenty of our revitalized Downtown and riverfront on display. There's a car chase or two, again highlighting our seemingly very photogenic Downtown alleys (the same ones used in The Dark Knight Rises). A looser Tom Cruise seems to be having fun, but it's the older dudes who make a mark: Werner Herzog plays a cold-eyed villain who chews more than the scenery, and Robert Duvall brings the laughs as a crusty old Marine-turned-gun-range-proprietor.
Speaking of firearms, there are a lot of guns and shooting, but it ends as it must: with two well-armed, highly trained snipers dropping their weapons to have a fistfight in the pouring rain.