Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, 2016.
Directed by Edward Zwick
Starring Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, Robert Catrini, Madalyn Horche and Robert Knepper.
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.
There’s something rather absent in Edward Zwick’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Not simply the cavernous hole left by Werner Herzog – whose German tinge still echoes – nor the peculiar lack of workable tension, but the dearth of Tom Cruise’s signature run, all arms, face stern, veins bulbous. Not to dismiss Cruise’s running style, it’s evolved to something slightly lesser, as if Reacher, who’s main character trait is that of his ability to punch his way out of any situation (lord alert him to a late library return), is concerned his run may alert those to his presence.
Jack Reacher, effectively a couch surfer with sociopathic tendencies, is alerted to the sudden detention of Turner (Cobie Smulders), a high level army sergeant accused of treason. On the run, Reacher and Turner attempt to uncover a major government conspiracy. This, as Reacher finds himself in the alien situation of possible fatherhood.
The central relationship-what may traditionally fall into the archaic, Bechdel baiting type so common amongst Bond (seen as recent as Spectre) – is actually somewhat spritely. Where early on it seems Turner is to be the buxom love interest of yesteryear, Zwick smartly subverts the trend of female characters simply being fuck-dolls or cuckolds. For an action film that plods rather than sprints, it’s all a tad, and rather refreshingly forward thinking.
Smulders, known to most as Maria Hill in the Marvel universe or as Robin in the long running, entirely Bechdel baiting sitcom How I Met Your Mother impresses against the monolithic ego of Tom Cruise. She brings confidence and a genuine sense of power to the role. As does Danika Yarosh, playing Reacher’s possible daughter with the sort of strong female independence still lacking amongst the male orientated tosh churned out, as if women don’t make up quite literally half of the entire market.
And it’s a shame that it takes a passable rough and tumble action flick to stand tall. Someone really should have passed a message onto those at Paramount (presumably old white men still harking back to the days of women as figures only of matriarchy) who decided to commission a poster with Cruise’s massive face hiding Smulders, who could pass as anyone.
Where its predecessor not only had the trump card of having Werner Herzog, but also had a 15 certificate, Never Go Back is squandered with cuts to fit a 12. In doing so, action lacks a certain physicality and where clear attempts to portray violence as something raw and messy sporadically succeed, it results in a finale labored if not efficient. In fact rather bizarrely, there’s the looming grasp of Brian De Palma’s still brilliant Blow Out in the forefront.
Villainy is steeped in cliché with Holt McCallany’s corrupt colonel ticking every box while his dim-witted cronies make decisions borderline moronic. In fact, decisions from all involved are of such idiocy, it’s a miracle the body count is limited to the few.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (an utterly ghastly title) is an efficient, if unremarkable action flick lifted only by it’s well-rounded female characters that resemble something more than simply fleshy meat puppets.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★