Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Cert: 12A / 118 mins / Dir. Edward Zwick / Trailer
Oh, Tom. When a Cruise-produced action vanity-project doesn't even work as a Cruise-produced action vanity project, you know the genre's really in trouble. The largely unnecessary sequel to 2012's live-action cartoon Jack Reacher limps into the cinematic graveyard-slot without even bearing the exuberant ridiculousness of its predecessor…
The film opens with ex Military Police Major Jack living a transient, spartan existence. With little except for the clothes on his back, Reacher thumbs lifts from city to city, righting the wrongs of corporate and state/military corruption he finds along the way like a violent, narcissistic version of The Littlest Hobo. When one of his trusted contacts from his old unit is framed on charges of espionage and treason, Jack breaks cover to clear her name and expose the culprits. To complicate matters further, the case uncovers a 15yr old girl who may or may not be Reacher's surprise daughter. Either way, he has to protect her while taking care of business...
Relying heavily on the audience already being familiar and/or in love with the character of Reacher, the screenplay wastes little time explaining the setup. Jack's great, everybody adores him except for the moustache-twirling villains, sub-villains and inept henchmen. He pouts, frowns and only breaks people's faces when provoked of course (and always in a 12A-friendly manner). Worse still, the inclusion of the daughter-archetype (who is obviously a flashing target for the film's villains) nudges the film towards being Taken-lite.
You'd imagine that a movie where the main supporting character is a 30-something female army major (who's had years of patronising misogyny hampering her career, and explicitly states so), would have a little self-awareness when it comes to gender politics. Well, Never Go Back's plot features a military contracting company by the name of Para-Source, which is pronounced approximately half the time throughout the film as 'Paris Whores'. I don't know, either. There's also the moment during Jack's arrest in the first act when he needs to get his female attorney out of the room so that he can engineer his escape. He does this by telling her to go and get him a sandwich. Literally. Incredible. But during the scene where Cobie Smudlers is wandering round a motel room in her bra for no real reason, Tom's got his shirt off for no real reason, too. Yay, equality.
I can see why Smulders signed up support here, but a movie like this is really something you should be doing on your way down the ladder, not up. Still, it's either that or carving out a secondary career in sub-standard horror movies, I suppose.
Above all that though, JR:NGB's biggest problem is how boring it all is. Any character with a name is narratively-invincible until the third act, and even then it's just a matter of ticking boxes until the credits roll. Grindingly pedestrian, even Cruise looks like he doesn't want to be there; and this is his messianic fantasy, remember.
After a stoically emotional coda, we leave Jack meandering his way down the highway, thumb outstretched, on his way to another adventure.
Maybe tomorrow, he'll want to settle down.
Until tomorrow, he'll just keep punching bad guys in the mush…
Liam Neeson films.
But where the starring cast are far prettier.
Not now that Doctor Strange is out, no.
I think there could be one buried in the rooftop fight-sequence, but let's side with nope.
Level 2: Cruise starred in 1985's Legend of course, alongside Tim 'Voice of Palpatine in the later episodes of The Clone Wars' Curry.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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