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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

MOVIE REVIEW: JACK REACHER 2; Never go back

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a 2016 American action thriller film directed by Edward Zwick and written by Zwick, Richard Wenk and Marshall Herskovitz. A sequel to 2012 film Jack Reacher, the film stars Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh and Holt McCallany.

Never Go Back may have been directed by Edward Zwick and inspired by a series of pulpy novels by Lee Child, but its silly plotting; randomly crazy violence; utter sexlessness; questionable grasp of grown-up behavior; and strict insistence on having characters constantly address the indestructible, leather-jacket–wearing hero as “Reacher” or “Major” suggest that the true author of this movie might have been a kid. The rendition is childish and interesting. This is the best and worst thing about Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. 

Principal photography began on October 20, 2015 in New Orleans and the film was released on October 21, 2016 in IMAX and conventional formats. It has so far received mixed reviews and has grossed over $54 million in its first week after release.

The plot involves drug and arms smuggling or something at the hands of one of those military-industrial conspiracies that’s really just the fault of a few bad apples, though Reacher (the name is said approximately 100 times in the film) is also protecting a teenage girl from hitmen, and he is a very wanted fugitive trying to clear his name and the name of a certain Major Susan Turner.


The dialogue mostly supports the child-author hypothesis; it’s shouty and sometimes syntactically confused (“We need to ditch the car and get into my email!”), with some groan-inducing attempts at corny action-movie humor, like a fugitive-hunting MP barking to a lackey, “I want to know their favorite flavor of ice cream, and I want it yesterday!” or Turner (Cobie Smulders) yelling, “That soldier was under my command!” after Reacher (Tom Cruise) dispatches a military prison guard with a Taser.

Again, the lack of polish is actually the most appealing thing about the film, which is otherwise defined by a different type of indifference. It joins the ranks of this year’s London Has Fallen and the collected works of Adam Sandler as an example of the film industry’s ability to make a listless low-budget movie as expensively as possible; it cost around $96 million to make but looks like it was financed for about $2 million by the late Menahem Golan.

Even as a star text, it’s shoddy. Cruise is at a point in his career where he only plays Tom Cruise types with names like Ethan Hunt, Matthew Knight, or William Cage—names that could just as easily be the name of the Cruise stand-in in a scandalous Hollywood roman à clef. But though the Reacher of the first film was never that distinct, this one seems to have been written for Michael Dudikoff or Michael Paré circa the early to mid 1990s; never has a starring role given Cruise fewer opportunities to be charismatic. The production values follow suit: sub-direct-to-video special effects; unplaceable establishing shots that cut into equally unplaceable interiors; and that old standby of budget-conscious productions, the warehouse fight. 

Great action films are very dependent on form and movement; conversely, bad action films are some of the most stilted and awkward movies around. What defines Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is an indifference to bodies and space that borders on the absurd: the incoherent foot chases; the apparently variable weight of the characters, which permits Reacher to throw a bad guy through a wall; the way characters go deaf or blind whenever convenient, allowing a man to remain inconspicuous while standing behind a small tree; the fact that so much of the movie happens in warehouses and motel rooms with drawn curtains; the way the camera hangs on bit characters reacting to how cool Jack Reacher looks. The movie’s cut-rate ’90s-ness is nearly endearing; it’s so rare nowadays to see a movie where multiple characters say “dickhead.

Jack Reacher 2 cost $96million in all for production. On June 14, Entertainment Weekly premiered a preview of the first trailer, with Cobie Smulders introducing the footage. The official Jack Reacher Twitter account announced that a full trailer would be released on June 22. A browser game, titled Jack Reacher: Never Stop Punching, was released to promote the film. In September 2015, Paramount set Jack Reacher: Never Go Back for an October 21, 2016 release.

As of October 23, 2016, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back has grossed $23 million in North America and $31 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $54 million, against a budget of $96 million.

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