The Morning File: 'Reacher' fever -- Cool, but will this mess up traffic again?

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We are so excited about the U.S. premiere of "Jack Reacher" taking place in Pittsburgh this Saturday. It is the coolest thing to happen on the South Side since last weekend, when there were 33 arrests for public urination, 51 disorderly conducts, 87 public intoxications and 109 incidents involving off-duty police officers.

Let's hope the red carpet rolled out in front of the SouthSide Works Cinema for Tom Cruise and the Pittsburgh-set film's other stars is kept in storage next Friday night and protected from any alcohol-fueled damage elsewhere on Carson Street.

We don't know much about the film itself because that would require, you know, actually reading the book it was based on. That would take at least several hours of time away from more important things, like looking for a parking space anywhere near Walnut Street in Shadyside during the Christmas shopping season.

We do know from the "Jack Reacher" publicity machine that Mr. Cruise plays a homicide investigator who looks into a mass shooting in which a military sniper is the primary suspect. In our uber-patriotic era, that sounds very un-American (except for the part about there being a shooting spree) as our military snipers are trained only to skillfully kill people who don't look like us and who speak strange languages that we don't understand.

So in protest at Saturday's premiere, we will stand outside the theater waving the Stars and Stripes and yelling cruel insults at Mr. Cruise ("Hey shorty, nice lifts!") -- at least until he agrees to come over and give us an autograph and shine those pearly whites for a quick smartphone pic together.

The trailer for "Jack Reacher" shows the star of the movie is not really Mr. Cruise anyway, but good ol' Pixburgh, P-A. There appear to be so many picturesque shots of our riverfronts that you'd think ex-mayor Tom Murphy was the director.

And of course there are scenes filmed on bridges and in tunnels, which must explain why our traffic gets backed up around those so much. Every day it seems there's a movie crew for "Jack Reacher" or "Perks of Being a Wallflower" or something else shutting down a tunnel for a scene -- they can build a whole fake Wild West city out on those Hollywood studio lots, but a tunnel appears to be beyond their engineering capabilities.

Also, Mr. Cruise is shown getting on a Port Authority bus that appears to arrive right on schedule and have a seat open for him. (It is just a movie after all -- you've got to be willing to suspend disbelief for a couple of hours.)

The one part of the trailer that convinced us we're going to like the film is its portrayal of lawyers. Some bad guys evidently take a lawyer hostage, thinking Mr. Cruise/Reacher will get all hot and bothered about that when they tell him. Instead, he says, "Do you think I'm a hero? ... The lawyer's all yours." Bam! So now, you can expect to see some Allegheny County Bar Association representatives joining the military patriots in Saturday's picketing.

Some images of PNC Park also show up on screen, which makes you wonder if some kind of terrorist attack might interrupt a baseball game there, similar to the explosions that wreaked havoc during a football game at Heinz Field in "The Dark Knight Rises." A couple of terrorists at PNC Park probably couldn't hurt anything, though, especially if they had any proficiency at throwing out a base-stealer or comprehending that if they watch four bad pitches go by they can actually get on base.

You can never get the full flavor of these movies from a trailer, so it's hard to tell if "Jack Reacher" gives a realistic portrait of Pittsburgh by showing fries on sandwiches and salads; the Pittsburgh Left; a slavish devotion to fireworks; ubiquitous parking space chairs; women everywhere in football jerseys; and nostalgic driving directions.

("You say want to get to the courthouse, Mr. Reacher? Oh, sure, just take a right where Jenkins Arcade used to be, head on past where all the porn shops were on Liberty in the '70s and turn right. If you get to where Klein's once served seafood, you've gone too far.")

Whatever the case, it's sure to be a film that gets Pittsburgh some more national attention, not that we really need any at this point. All it's going to do is lead to some more filmmakers coming here, which just means that once again there will be some traffic backups at the tunnels.


Gary Rotstein: or 412-263-1255.


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