- Directed and Co-Written by Edward Zwick
- October 16, 2016 (New Orleans) / October 21, 2016 (US)
Jack Reacher helps an army major that has been framed for espionage and uncovers a dangerous conspiracy.
I went into the last film as well as Jack Reacher: Never Go Back with no knowledge of the books so I have no feelings outside of films on this character or their depiction. I know there are people who have an issue with Tom Cruise being Jack Reacher because he doesn’t have enough of a physical resemblance to the description of the character.
That’s a pretty common thing now and I’m curious if this isn’t instead something against Tom Cruise rather than something connected with being source material accurate. Ever since that whole couch episode on Oprah! (and it was a very kooky moment) people have been willing to take swipes at him.
The character of Reacher is a large and physically intimidating man which the five-foot Cruise most certainly is not. Sometimes you just need to cast a name to get people in theaters and Cruise can do that more often than not. Cruise makes it work here. He is a genuinely tough and threatening character on screen.
He accomplishes this because as an actor Cruise understands that tough does not equal monotone or looking like you are jacked on steroids. There is the right inflection in the voice, and the delivery of lines is done so in a threatening and strong manner. Tough is more than just stance and physical appearance. Or it can be anyway and Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher gets that.
I liked the first Jack Reacher film. It was an entertaining action-oriented thriller. While the plot was pretty straightforward, the action was great and the story was well presented. The character of Reacher was almost a force of nature in the first film. He was in control of the situation and able to take on all who came at him.
I cannot say the same about him here. He never gets quite to that level. Jack Reacher comes off as depowered in this movie. He is not as sure of his direction and as correct in his decisions as he was in the last one-at least not throughout the narrative.
Every time Maj. Turner (Cobie Smulders) comes on screen Reacher gets knocked down a few pegs. And truthfully though the story centers around her character, her character stops the action. I am not saying Turner had to be a damsel in distress but why did Reacher have to be brought down in order to bring the Turner character up? That’s what it came off as.
The story isn’t bad, but it isn’t nothing original either. I feel I’ve seen stories like military drug smuggling before. But the problem isn’t the lack of originality. The problem is its execution. Unoriginal is fine so long as the aim is to entertain. This is a very by the numbers presentation to the point of being bland.
And a cute smarty pants kid is never a good addition to an action film. They tend to be deadweight to the overall narrative. Have you seen The Mummy Returns? That’s perhaps the most egregious example of a cute and smarty-pants kid that ruined the portions of the film they were in.
The same can be said of Samantha (Danika Yarosh), a young girl who may be Jack Reacher’s daughter. She is all edgy streetwise teen who is a little witty and does not listen to the more experienced characters just enough that she causes problems yet is capable enough that she can help out when the plot dictates.
Samantha is there I guess to humanize our hero. Why? Let him be cold and mysterious. Let his aura border on supernatural. He does not need to develop fatherly instincts or regret over choices not made. Let Reacher show up, do what needs done, and walk away.
There is also some misplaced humor in the film. Dark humor is one thing and there is a little bit of that falling into the comeuppance of a character but there is also very light humor which doesn’t seem to fit with the tone of the character of Jack Reacher.
Never Go Back is a significantly weaker film than the original. The narrative gets building and then stops repeatedly throughout this movie leaving the climax lackluster. The story is not focused on building towards the end but on little side quests up to the end.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is an okay movie but it’s certainly not up to the quality of its predecessor. This is not a complete waste of your time but it’s not one you will think is all that great either. This is an “if you want.”