Jack Reacher: Never Go Back-Movie Man Jackson

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At least Tom Cruise runs in this one! After doing his thing in the shadows with a little help from his “contact” Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) the mysterious nomad Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) resurfaces again, hoping to pay her some thanks. Maybe even take her on a date.

But once he gets to Washington, D.C., Reacher finds out that Turner has not only been removed of her post, but thrown in jail under questionable circumstances. This sends Jack on a mission to figure out exactly what’s going on. All the while, a young teenage girl, Samantha (Danika Yarosh), is somehow connected to all of this, by the simple fact that she could possibly be Reacher’s daughter.

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Some films are hard to garner the desire to post thoughts about. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, is one of those films. Generic may not be the word to use, but little, if anything, is worth remembering. It honestly feels like one of the latest in novels that just don’t cut it on the big screen.

Out steps Christopher McQuarrie and in steps Edward Zwick (Glory, The Last Samurai) into directorial responsibilities in the Jack Reacher franchise. Technically, there isn’t anything wrong with Never Go Back. The action, albeit sparser than I personally would like here, is shot good enough when it happens. Composer Henry Jackson has some musical highlights that accompany a few scenes.

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But, the action would be a lot more satisfying if there were a story worth even getting semi-invested in. For yours truly, an action movie doesn’t have to have the greatest of stories to be fun. Maybe the issue is I want Jack Reacher to be more of an action when it really isn’t. All of this is a long winded way of saying that Never Go Back is rather dull in its A and B plot, failing in execution to deliver emotional gravitas (tries so hard to bring some to the table), as well as compelling crime story  that can be summed up as “bad organization links to corrupt officials.”

The dialogue does the feature little favors, either. Whereas the first Reacher had some cheesy amusing bits of dialogue and one-liners, Never Go Back doesn’t. More times than not, the dialogue is nondescript, (which isn’t the greatest of descriptions though worse could be had). But, there are a few moments of cringeworthiness, most notably a scene midway through where the two protagonists talk about a seedy motel and what they’d do to each other. It’s all kinds of bad and awkward.

Cruise is still a movie star, and always will be. And while more times than not, a star raises the most average of movies to good status, not unlike a good quarterback taking a bad team from bad to average or average to good. This doesn’t always work, however, as some things just can’t be elevated. Tom is in that predicament with Never Go Back. His charisma, often ever-present in most of his appearances, is pretty nonexistent. Far from a bad performance, but it isn’t a Cruise entertaining performance.

He’s paired with Cobie Smulders for much for the runtime. There’s an argument to be made that they’re not supposed to have chemistry with their respective character personalities, but pushed as potential love interests they don’t have it. The damsel in distress role is filled by Danika Yarosh, leaning more towards annoying than endearing. Couldn’t tell you anything about the villains, except that the hitman is a poor man’s rendition of any hitman found in like-minded action movies.

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Never give in, never give up, never go back. That’s the tagline for the latest Jack Reacher film. Follow the first part as it pertains to viewing. If you didn’t (like me), make sure to follow the last.

C-

Photo credits go to imdfb.org, guruofmovie.com, and themoviemylife.com

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

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Jack Reacher: Movie Man Jackson

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He who drifts is not directionless. Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a former U.S. Army Military police officer living away from society more or less. He’s impossible to find or locate. However, he’s drawn out of the shadows by by an old acquaintance who needs his help.

A man by the name of Barr has been accused of murdering five innocent people, and all of the evidence points to him. While not surprising to Reacher in the fact that Barr is the main suspect, something doesn’t exactly sit right with him. Along with Barr’s defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), the two work to uncover the case, the killer’s motives, and of course, the right killer.

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It may feature the same star, but the silver screen treatment of the Jack Reacher character from the novels is far from what one (a.k.a me) might initially expect it to be. Mission: Impossible, this is not. Jack Reacher is perfectly content being a little more lowkey.

After the marvelous (and very, very unnerving) opening sequence with the sniper setting up shop, one of the first things noticed about this Christopher McQuarie feature is how it looks. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why, but Jack Reacher feels like a movie that would be right at home in the 90’s or the 80’s, maybe even the 70’s through camera angles, lighting, score, etc. Despite the heavier tone, I immediately thought of movies like Speed and Beverly Hills Cop when watching this.

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Plot-wise, Jack Reacher is sort of like a poor man’s The Bourne Identity. The few action sequences are well-filmed, with the highlight being a great car chase midway through. But this is more committed to telling a mystery, or, more accurately, at least how Reacher solves it. It starts off well enough, but by the midpoint, it is a tad tedious and the finale couldn’t come sooner.

As time wore on, one might find that they’re not watching the film for its plot but for Tom Cruise. Or at least, I was. The fun lies in the character, not the mystery that devolves into common corruption and foreign baddies. The wrong actor could have made this Reacher movie a big disappointment, but Cruise keeps it at a consistent quality level. Reacher’s a wise-ass who knows exactly how everything went down or didn’t go down in CSI fashion just because he’s that good, a hardened soldier, a ladies man, and a vigilante who isn’t pure good or bad, among other things. And Cruise embodies all of this, even with his diminutive height. Didn’t know it was an issue until some of the notes about the casting were read. Author Lee Child stated it best: “With another actor you might get 100% of the height but only 90% of Reacher. With Tom, you’ll get 100% of Reacher with 90% of the height.”

The rest of the cast predictably comes nowhere near Cruise, but aren’t major detractors to the movie, either. Usually derided in much that he appears in, Jai Courtney is actually a pretty good, albeit generic, menacing antagonist here, much better than Werner Herzog’s character, who lacks intrigue and any real fear aspect. Rosamund Pike fits well with Cruise, and David Oyelowo is sound as an agent who doesn’t know what to make of Reacher. Robert DuVall’s gun owner character doesn’t appear until the middle and then becomes the wily sidekick of Reacher. Not that he isn’t entertaining, but the choice comes out of nowhere. It never feels like Reacher is that close enough with him to employ him as backup.

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Jack Reacher is a prime example of a true movie star elevating basic, cliched, and possibly boring in the wrong hands, material to something of a pleasing watch. Do I ever want to see Jack Reacher again? Sure, as long as Cruise is involved.

C+

Photo credits go to aceshowbiz.com, topgear.com, en.wikipedia.org, and cinemablend.com.

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