Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Posted on October 20, 2016 at 5:12 pm
Tom Cruise is back in a second “Jack Reacher” movie, based on the hard-boiled series by Lee Child. Jack Reacher is a quintessential and perfectly named fantasy action hero — former military but resistant to authority, capable of instant assessment of threats and options, crackerjack fighting skills, and no strings of any kind. He has no home, no family, no ID other than an expired military card, no car, no bank account, no possessions, just a passion for justice and a knack for getting into and out of trouble. And the equally perfectly named Cruise, capable of challenging himself as an actor but apparently not at the moment very interested in it, except maybe physically, is just right for Reacher, a bit world-weary but ever-righteous. He still runs very fast and looks good with his shirt off.
We first see Reacher in a diner with his hands cuffed behind his back, a bit scuffed up but characteristically steely. A sheriff informs him he is about to be arrested and charged with felony assault of the men lying injured on the ground. He coolly informs the officers that the pay phone is about to ring and that it is the sheriff who will soon be wearing the cuffs. The officer’s derisive snort is barely over before the phone rings, and sure enough, Reacher is right again.
He has solved a problem for the military (we won’t worry about the various laws — and bones — he broke on the way), and thanking him is his successor as overseer of an investigative unit, Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Avengers”). They do a little phone flirting, and he decides to go see her in DC, only to find she has just been arrested for espionage. So, now Reacher has what he loves best, an injustice that only he can make right, of such an order of magnitude that it is certain to provide many opportunities for mayhem. But there is one problem that is, for a change, entirely outside of his ability to shoot, punch, or evade. Turner’s military attorney conveniently agrees to meet with Reacher (in an officer’s club, surrounded by pretty much everyone who might be interested), and he conveniently happens to have Reacher’s file with him as well, and helpfully shows Reacher the paperwork showing that a woman had filed a child support request with the military because she said the father of her teenage daughter was Jack Reacher. The same bad guys who are after Maj. Turner are after the girl, so Reacher ends up on the run with both Turner and his possible daughter Sam (Danika Yarosh).
Pairing up again with Edward Zwick (“The Last Samurai”) and with a script by Zwick and his “thirtysomething” partner Marshall Herskovitz (with Richard Wenk), Cruise stays right in his “Mission Impossible” action hero sweet spot. The interplay with Sam gives a little balance and emotional weight to the various fight scenes and shoot-outs, without diminishing the appeal of the ever-able hero with no strings.
Parents should know that the violence in this film is borderline R with very intense action and fight scenes, chases, fights, shoot-outs and explosions, torture, hired killers, corruption, many characters injured and killed, threat of rape, some strong language.
Family discussion: How was military training and experience reflected in the choices made by both the good and bad guys in this movie? What did Jack want the answer to be about Sam?
If you like this, try: the earlier “Jack Reacher” film and the “Bourne” series