Nutshell: Tom Cruise at his Tom Cruise-iest. Nonstop action, jaw-dropping stunts, lightning-quick pacing, and grrl power smackdowns courtesy of Cobie Smulders and Danika Yarosh. If you’re looking for more than that…what are you doing at a Tom Cruise action fest? Grade: B+
“Let me know when you remember what that uniform stands for.”
Story: Reacher develops a phone rapport with Major Susan Turner (Smulders), an army officer that’s been helping him with his cases. When he shows up to DC and finds she’s been charged with murder, he goes away and never thinks about it again. SIKE – he’s hell bent on finding out what the real story is. Oh, and hey; who’s that 15 year old girl over there? Probably not your daughter, right?
Genre I’d put it in: Badass Who Loves What He Does FOR AMUUURICA
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Orignal: Based on the Jack Reacher series of novels by Lee Child. A sequel to 2012’s Jack Reacher.
Gotta say: This film had me really thinking about why I like what I like. I just trashed a film for being formulaic and predictable. So why do those same exact things fire all my cylinders here? I came up with an answer. Go me!
It’s all about the actors being up for it. If a film has a plot you can figure out within the first five minutes of that beautiful bean footage? You’d better have a cast that’s all in. No phoning it in. No sad “I’m only paying my mortgage” faces. And definitely no ennui. With Never Go Back, everybody’s up for a good time, and ready to share that with viewers. You can almost see Cruise licking his chops at all the opportunities to get some throwdown in.
And the rest of the cast is just as game. From Smulders, who plays Turner as a no-nonsense gal who can hold her own, and Yarosh’s loyal tough girl teen, to Robert Knepper (Prison Break) as General Big Bad, they’re all 100% in. That means real performances, not boilerplate. Touches of humanity and personalities beyond being props for Reacher…or in the case of the bad guys, a cool, businesslike view of their trade instead of the usual Snidely Whiplash characterizations.
Writer/Director Edward Zwick (Courage Under Fire) knows how to layer a character’s motivations, so while the basics are known, the whys are what keep things interesting. And then there’s the outstanding stunt choreography, and a score that builds, but doesn’t overpower, the action.
tl;dr: crafting a good formulaic tale takes caring about the film you make. That caring shows in this film. And while it’s not high art or “quality cinema” (whatever the hell that really means), it delivers what it promises; a whole lot of top-notch boom boom pow. And for me? It adds another Bucket List item: hitting New Orleans during Halloween. That looks amazing.
#Protip: As per usual, Cruise does as much of his own stuntwork as humanly possible. Cruise’s penchant for dialing things up to 11 had costar Smulders trying to keep up…and while she said she got “winded”, you’d never think that watching her onscreen.