Reviewed by: John Walker
|Featuring:||Tom Cruise … Jack Reacher
Cobie Smulders … Susan Turner
Robert Knepper … General Harkness
Danika Yarosh … Samantha Dayton
Aldis Hodge … Espin
Ninja N. Devoe … Female MP
Holt McCallany …
Sue-Lynn Ansari … D.O.D. Girl
Teri Wyble … Mrs. Prudhomme
Patrick Heusinger … The Hunter
Julia Holt … Pedestrian
|Director:||Edward Zwick—“The Last Samurai” (2003), “Courage Under Fire” (1996) “The Siege” (1998) “Blood Diamond” (2006)|
Shanghai Film Group
“Never give in. Never give up. Never go back.”
Prequel: “Jack Reacher” (2012)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is part of the genre of current movies such as the Bourne Series or “Mission: Impossible” where we find a highly trained and skilled “fighting machine” (if you will) going about righting wrongs in the world. Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is an ex-military police Major known for his highly trained tough style and intuitive detective work for solving illegal activities. This tale opens up in the middle of Reacher’s newest mission, as he helps the military take down a cop involved in human trafficking. After this brief setup, the story just takes off from there as he jaunts cross country on the premise of a visit to see Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) whom he has been assisting in these investigations. He makes his way to Washington, DC to visit her and upon arriving discovers she has been imprisoned by the Army for treason. Not believing the charge, he begins his own investigation which alerts the bad guys to spring into action to take both Reacher and Major Turner out of the picture before they are found out. As it happens, the question of “find out what” is what their mission is to solve.
The two escape from a military prison and are on the lam. Reacher gets framed for the murder of someone, and Turner becomes an escaped convict, meaning that they have the criminals, the police, and the military, all on their heels. The case gets even more complicated as Reacher discovers he is possibly the father of a teenage girl whom he previously found out the military is being sued for abandonment and the child support of. Samantha, his presumed daughter now becomes an element that the bad guys can exploit and divides Reacher and Turners attention. The case leads them to New Orleans where a discovered witness can begin to make sense of the wrong doings. They get there with the bad guys waiting and ready for a showdown. The story reveals who supposedly is behind all of this and the reasons for it all. The final stage is a battle our hero and the villain’s lead henchman. It ends with justice prevailing and Reacher able to fight another day.
The movie, while enjoyable, lacks the surprise and ambiguity of the first Reacher movie. The action scenes are realistic and well done, but the story seems to unfold way too conveniently, and you get the feeling that it will all work out, all too easily. The story of the two lead characters is interesting and actually intriguing, since they do not get romantically involved, but stay on target to solve the case. There are many awkward moments where Reacher seems out of his comfort zone. The tossed in subjects of the treatment of women and newly reunited father-daughter circumstances really slow down the movie and change how we feel about Reacher being a loner renegade. It feels a little contrived at those points, and along with some nonsensical plot points, makes the movie and the lead character seem all too ordinary. It does not have the bravado and mystery of the first movie, but the addition of Major Turner makes for a good one-two punch duo. The movie is well acted, and the characters play their parts extremely well, which helps keep the weak plot moving along.
As you might expect, movies of this genre have quite a bit of violence, and this movie falls in line with that. The two main characters are highly trained in hand to hand combat, but, as we find out, so are their adversaries. We see tough multiple fight scenes, and people murdered throughout the movie. Though not as graphic as other films, you definitely get the point. Bad language is used throughout, and the Lord’s name is taken in vain. There are no sex scenes, but there is a scene with Major Turner without her shirt on and only a bra. Reacher is shown with his shirt off, and, in one scene, above the waist in the shower. Characters are shown drinking, and we see parades in the streets of New Orleans during what appears to be the “Day of the Dead” parade. The main characters lie and steal their way through the movie, and we see the two opposing sides with more similarities than differences, at times. The ends justifies the means attitude takes the edge and higher ground from their mission and leaves the end result a little tainted for me.
The movie does uphold the virtues of friendship, duty, respect, fatherly love, sacrifice, and justice, and we see that the truth ultimately will be revealed in the end. The characters respect each other and learn to care and protect each other. It is these things which differentiate them from their opposition in the end. While I enjoyed the movie, I cannot recommend it for Christian audiences. It is flawed in its portrayal of its heroes and cinematically a little weak in the story telling department. While not the worst or most objectionable movie you might see, it is only for the true Jack Reacher fan in the end.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
…packs a punch… solid and satisfying action-thriller… [3½/5]
—Edward Douglas, New York Daily News
…a welcome genre throwback… lacks the crackling dialogue of its predecessor and anything beyond surface level entertainment and thrills. …
—Scott Mendelson, Forbes
…the novelty, the twists, and a baddie on par with the gonzo Herzog are AWOL… The problem is, aside from Cruise and Smulders, nothing else about Never Go Back really works or matters. … [C]
—Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
…there is no juicy high-concept baddie this time around, but there is a lot of enjoyable hokum and cheerful ridiculousness, especially when Reacher has to spring someone from military prison… [3/5]
—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)
…What starts as a pared-down and brutal thriller quickly—and bizarrely - turns into a family melodrama… [2/5]
—Geoffrey Macnab, Independent [UK]
…Zwick barely manages to tickle our adrenaline, waiting till the climactic showdown amid a New Orleans Halloween parade to deliver a sequence that could legitimately register as memorable…
—Peter Debruge, variety
…little to write home about… there's nothing that hasn't been seen innumerable times before, and in neither style nor substance do Zwick and his writers bring anything new to the genre table here. …
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter