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' Jack Reacher'

3 stars = Good
Ratings explained

If you were driving through Pittsburgh during rush hour on Oct. 7, 2011, and thought you saw Tom Cruise alone on the Fort Duquesne Bridge -- and then figured, that can't be him -- well, your first instinct was right.

In the audio commentary for "Jack Reacher." director Christopher McQuarrie recalls the challenge of doing a drive-by shot of Mr. Cruise on a Friday during rush hour, as the light was fading and the production was able to close only one lane of traffic.

The sole way to do it was to drop Mr. Cruise off and then drive past him and the filmmaker jokes motorists might have wondered, "Is that Tom Cruise? ... It's not like they don't know you're in town."

"Jack Reacher," based on the Lee Child novel about the footloose former military investigator, arrived on Blu-ray and DVD this week. It was filmed in Pittsburgh in fall 2011 and early 2012, and is set here.

It still opens with a sniper in a Downtown parking garage aiming his weapon at the sun-drenched walkway outside PNC Park and killing five. The picture's arrival on the heels of the real-life school shooting in Connecticut made it a tough sell for some moviegoers, and so did Mr. Cruise's failure to look like the Jack Reacher on the page.

That is addressed by Mr. Child as well as Mr. McQuarrie in the extras, which also quote the director on returning to the quarry in Saltsburg, Indiana County, he had scouted on a sunny day and now found remote, muddy and cold. "I had some small sense of what Napoleon felt on his way out of Russia," he says in the extra, "When the Man Comes Around."

Werner Herzog, meanwhile, reveals that he didn't think his villainous character of the Zec should look well-fed so he lost 23 pounds. His secret? He ate one-third of what he normally would consume.

As for anyone disappointed by the lack of a romance between Rosamund Pike's Helen and Jack Reacher, Mr. McQuarrie said he told his leading man, "You can be charming with Helen but you can never charm her," because Reacher would not get involved with a woman he had to leave behind.

"Jack Reacher" has plenty of Pittsburgh on display, from PNC Park, the 10th Street Bridge and Armstrong Tunnel to various Downtown streets, the South Side Slopes, Sewickley, Dormont and other locations.

All "Reacher" packages for sale include a promo code for an sneak peek at Lee Child's next Reacher book, "Never Go Back." For a limited time, buyers can download the first chapter.

Blu-ray/DVD combo pack has a suggested retail price of $39.99, with single-disc DVD, $29.99.

-- Barbara Vancheri

' Safe Haven'

2 stars = Mediocre
Ratings explained

Nicholas Sparks stuck with his favorite formula of an enigmatic loner landing in a picturesque North Carolina town where he -- or she --- finds troubled love with a local who is either divorced or widowed.

With "Safe Haven," translated to the screen by director Lasse Hallstrom ("Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," "Dear John," "My Life as a Dog") and screenwriter Dana Stevens, the author adds flourishes of a thriller and mystery as bookends.

"Safe Haven" opens with a Boston woman, Katie (Julianne Hough, "Footloose"), frantically fleeing her home and boarding a bus headed south. The circumstances of her departure are teased out, but when the bus stops in the peaceful coastal community of Southport, N.C., she opts to stay.

Katie lands a waitress job, rents a cabin in the woods and slowly warms to Alex (Josh Duhamel), the handsome widowed father of two who runs a general store.

But what happened in Boston doesn't stay in Boston in "Safe Haven," which pulls out all of the stops, throws in a drunken, overwrought and abusive character and another haunted by the past.

Tidy up the language and "Safe Haven" could easily air on broadcast television. You go to a Sparks film hoping that the lightning of "The Notebook" will strike twice, but that probably will never happen.

-- Post-Gazette


• "Mama" (1-1/2 stars): Jessica Chastain stars in "Mama," which would have been good for a few scares if the biggest plot point made even a tiny bit of sense. Director Andres Muschietti's horror film looks at what happens when two small girls spend five years in the forest being raised by a spectre. How they got there is a jumble.

• "K-9: The Complete Series" (2 stars): The mechanical dog at the center of this TV series wasn't that interesting as a traveling companion for Doctor Who in 1977. As the star of a children's sci-fi/adventure series, the mechanical character is lifeless and his new companions rather dull. The 4-DVD set contains all 26 original episodes along with bonus features.

• "30 Rock: Season 7": Tina Fey comedy about life behind-the-scenes at a TV show.

• "Liberace: The Ultimate Entertainer": TV special taped in London.

• "Witness: A World in Conflict Through a Lens": Series shows viewers the difficult life of war photographers in conflict-torn countries.

• "Doctors of the Dark Side": Documentary about American psychologists and physicians at military prisons at CIA Black Sites.

• "Marley Africa Road Trip": Ziggy, Rohan and Robbie Marley travel to South Africa.

• "Felicity: Season Four" and "Season Five": Two seasons of the TV series about a New York co-ed are being re-released.

• "Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season": Fox sci-fi series comes to an end.

• "Mr. Hockey": Story of Gordie Howe's successful return to the ice.

• "Steel Magnolias": TV version of the story that stars Queen Latifah.

• "Rookie Blue: The Complete Third Season": TV series about young police officers.

• "Elmo the Musical": Includes Elmo's math skill-enhancing lessons.

• "Private Practice: The Complete Sixth Season": Final episodes of the TV medical drama.

• "Nature: What Plants Talk About": Ecologist JC Cahill maintains plants lead anything but solitary lives.

• "The Exorcist in the 21st Century": Fredrik Horn Akselsen's documentary on exorcisms.

• "The Great Escape": The Steve McQueen film's being released on Blu-ray to mark its 50th anniversary.

• "Gamer 3D": Action film where prisoners fight to the death in a real-life video game is available on Blu-ray.

• "Superman: Unbound": A destructive force is headed toward Earth and even Superman may not be able to stop it.

-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers


First Published May 9, 2013 4:00 AM


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