- on Friday, 21 October 2016 15:30
- by Frank Wilkins
2012 saw the wildly popular Lee Childs bestselling books come to life on the big screen with Jack Reacher, a film that caught most by surprise with its bad-ass vintage style and tone that harkened back to the he-man, classic car-chase films of the ‘70s like Bullitt and The French Connection. Though a risk for director Christopher McQuarrie to cast the slight Tom Cruise in the role of the six-foot-five-inch, 250 pound titular ex-military character, the first film mostly worked due to Cruise and his portrayal of the mysterious character who lived off the grid, paid for everything with cash, carried no cell phone, and had very little in his possession, save for the clothes on his back and the toothbrush in his pocket.
Well, with the second installment, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, gone are most of those things that made Reacher such an enigmatic and fun character to watch. Sure, he still kicks ass like nobody’s business, but gone is the mystery of the loner who rides into the story like a legendary, myth-based character. Gone is the “hey, where did he go” ghost who, for some reason, had been banished to wander the land only to appear when good deeds are needed.
Sadly, in Never Go Back, Reacher is reduced to just another formulaic action figure trying to solve another mysterious murder, as on any episode of any of the numerous NCIS iterations scattered about the TV listings. Plus, in the latest, Reacher does something the character would never do: he works alongside a crime-solving partner – a sexy one, mind you – in the person of Cobie Smulders, but that’s just not the Reacher we know. And it’s a whole lot less fun watching him work because of it. We don’t want another crime solving duo. We want the mystery man – the high-principled Kwai Chang Cain kind of guy whose character arc is kept a mystery and unfurled over a series of movies. Blame it on the script, or blame it on the impatience of the studio, but the fact remains that whatever the story may entail this time around, it won’t be as interesting now that Reacher isn’t the Jack Reacher we bargained for.
This time, the nomadic Reacher is hitch-hiking his way to Washington, D.C. to meet with Army Major Susan Turner (Smulders), the leader of the elite Military Police unit Reacher used to command before he quit the service years ago.
Upon his arrival, Reacher learns that Smulder has been arrested and falsely accused of espionage and that a shadowy outfit of Blackwater-like characters are on his tail. The same bad guys also assassinated a couple of members of Turner’s team as they began uncovering the details of some missing weapons in Afghanistan, and they now have Reacher imprisoned.
Naturally, Reacher breaks free from his captors then attempts to rescue Turner from jail, blah blah blah. The details are overly complicated, but don’t really matter anyway. All that’s important is that Reacher and Smulder run around D.C, then New Orleans knocking heads and breaking arms, all while hiding a young teenager named Samantha (Danika Yarosh), who may or may not be Reacher’s daughter.
The plot isn’t important in a Reacher film as long it gives plenty of service to Cruise’s action – and running – skills. And there’s certainly plenty of that. Smulders can kick a little ass as well, but every time things slow down to advance the storyline, director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai) – working from a script by Richard Wenk – loses his way with a clunky narrative that hopes to feature the character dynamics of Reacher, Turner, and Samantha. But rather than display the magic chemistry that can come from three loners who are forced to work together, we’re allowed to miss what we originally came for. Plus, absent is a bonafide villain to bring chills to the spine as did Werner Herzog’s shadowy, milk-eyed figure in the original. In Never Go Back, the bad guys are simply a bothersome gaggle of nameless, faceless, trench-coat-wearing henchmen who rarely even speak. And no, Robert Knepper’s Gen. Harkness is never effective.
While Zwick certainly has a competent eye for exciting action sequencing and Cruise always brings a convincing physicality to his films, Never Go Back forgets it’s a Jack Reacher film and never gives moviegoers a reason to look forward to a third installment. After just two episodes, the franchise is dead. Sadly, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back shouldn’t have.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements.
Runtime: 118 mins
Director: Edward Zwick
Writer: Richard Wenk
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge
Tagline: Never give in, never give up, never go back.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Two things are gonna happen in the next 90 seconds. First that phone over there is going to ring. Second, you're going to be waring these cuffs."
Theatrical Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site: http://www.jackreachermovie.com/
Release Date: October 21, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
Synopsis: Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.
No details available.