Friday, January 11, 2013

Filmed in PGH: Jack Reacher

A few weeks ago, my friend Lindsay, who lives in Boston, asked me - I believe somewhat eagerly and excitedly - if I had managed to catch a glimpse of Channing Tatum, who was in town filming a movie. Since I moved back in 2010, those words "in town filming a movie" have become more and more a part of the Pittsburgh everyday vernacular. Though I had not and have not seen this year's Sexiest Man Alive, I've stood next to Gus Van Sant at Brillobox, watched Anne Hathaway slink into her trailer outside the Mellon Institute, and stared (mouth-agape and all) at Christian Bale through a window in a press box at Heinz Field.

In the past year, The Dark Knight Rises, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Won't Back Down have all shown on the big screen. All Filmed in PGH movies. The latest of these to hit the theaters is Jack Reacher, the Tom Cruise-produced and Tom-Cruise-starring action thriller.

Last Friday night, I went to the Southside Works and paid my $9.75 to see this movie. Had this movie not been filmed in Pittsburgh, that would have never happened. This is a cheesy action-thriller full of ridiculous one-liners ("I don't need a pen.") and bad-ass threats ("Drink your blood out a boot."). Tom Cruise puts himself on display and I think we're supposed to find him sexy in the scene where he stands around shirtless because he only has ONE SHIRT and he's currently washing it in a motel room sink. I could name a dozen or so other scenes as goofy as that.

But as silly as Jack Reacher was, it featured Pittsburgh quite nicely. Within the first few seconds there is a sweeping shot of our skyline. There's a van we're following from afar, through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, across the bridge, and along our city streets. The movie turns grim pretty quickly after that, as the van holds a sniper, who sets up in a parking garage along Fort Duquesne Boulevard and shoots five people on the North Shore Trail across the Allegheny. From there the movie sprawls into conspiracy and Tom Cruise trying to act tough.

When I watch a movie filmed in Pittsburgh, I'm easily distracted by the many times I'm thinking "I know where that is!" or "That must be in [insert neighborhood name]!" (Sometimes I'm also distracted by people I know showing up. Mostly this is my friend Patrick Jordan.) In both The Dark Knight Rises and Jack Reacher, car chase scenes made me dizzy. Batman kept going in circles around the Kaufmann building and Jack Reacher's chase scene hopped from one side of Downtown and suddenly to the North Shore and through the Armstrong Tunnel, which didn't have a curve, and so on.

Last year, I made a resolution to read books that had to do with Pittsburgh. This year, I'm going a different route. Filmed in PGH will hopefully be a regular feature on EvBetPGH throughout 2013. The year's first Filmed in PGH entry, Jack Reacher, might not get any thumbs up for content, but for its Pittsburghness, I'd give it 8/10 Bridges.

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