Seems this weekend is all about prequels/sequels coming to the theaters. Robbie K here reviewing Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, which promises to have some mystery, action, and comedy to entertain us. But will Hollywood deliver on its promise, or will we get another lackluster sequel from the generic mold?
- Fast Pace
- Comedic Timing
- Solid casting
In my experience, crime stories tend to drag out a bit before getting to the juicy drama and violence. While this film is a little slow and convoluted at the beginning it does cut through most of the boring fat to get to the action packed meat. The pace continues to pick up through the movie, as constant pursuit from the enemy keeps our small band on their toes throughout the country. While some of the slower character building moments are integrated into the intense game of hide, seek, and run, they are often short, entertaining sequences that are there to set up for the impending “excitement”. Rest assured, Reacher’s latest journey connects the dots in rapid succession to get you to the answers as quickly as possible.
And like the last installment, you might be hoping for some witty comedy to help relieve the tension of the constant chase. Good news, the writers adapted the book to provide Reacher’s famous dry humor. For those who don’t know, this movie’s style isn’t slapstick and stupid one-liners to be endlessly quoted. Instead Reacher’s comedy is dry where timing is the main punch line rather than mindless babbling. Seeing Cruise react to some of the scenarios or deliver a sarcastically flat response were the funniest components of the film. I felt the comedy was well integrated into the tale and not abused to keep the laughs as fresh as possible.
Of course the comedy and story would be nothing without a good cast, and Reacher has a great lineup to keep you entertained. All of the cast feels like a solid military crime family, each playing that stereotypical, no nonsense attitude cinematic soldiers seem to have. While not as tall as book Reacher, Cruise’s rogue nature mixes well with Smulders modern age warrior woman to craft a realistic, crime solving MP duo. Ms. Yarosh as the edgy teenager from a broken home also played her part well and added a twist that both worked and annoyed me at times. And as for the hunter, Heusinger played him well but I don’t think the character direction worked for me (more on that later). Still the cast overall make you feel part of a government conspiracy, which gets a plus in my book.
- Action is short lived
- Annoying character tendencies
- Little mystery and suspense
The trailers paint for action, but sadly that action has been greatly reduced to Reacher being in small scuffles that usually detail some poor extra getting knocked unconscious in a single punch. Occasionally you get some gun play involved and a chase scene displaying Cruise’s agility, but even this lackluster at times. While a former veteran appreciated the realistic battles, I was hoping for a little more excitement and tension to grace the screen. This nearly happened at the end, but that scene crossed into a drawn out, ridiculous torture that while justified, did little but make my eyes roll.
While the action scenes may have been annoying at times, there were a few characters who ground my gears. Samantha in particular was an irritation, as her portrayal of an edgy teenager, whining about everything did little to entertain me. Samantha’s arrogance can be entertaining at times (and was important for character development), but there were a good number of shots that had me hoping Reacher would slap some sense into her. And as for the hunter, well he doesn’t win the award for scariest motive, merely a mercenary with delusions of grandeur to feed his obsession. His skills are certainly impressive, but his drive is lacking and kind of stupid.
Yet the biggest disappointment had to be the lack of mystery and suspense in this movie. In the first installment Reacher had to dig deep to find the perpetrator by pushing his skills to the limit and using ingenuity. In this film though, the quest was almost too easy for Reacher, with all the pieces falling to conveniently into place that is uncharacteristic of a crime thriller. The source of the corruption was sloppily revealed in the form of pointless character I cared little about and lacked the twist of the original. Of course the surprise isn’t helped by obvious foreshadowing introduced in what would be perceived as unnecessary scenes.
Overall Reacher’s latest adventure is a more diluted version of its predecessor. For me the cast is the strongest aspect in this fast paced adventure who will set the stage for the adventure. However, the lack of a challenging mystery was a major disappointment that didn’t have the action to make up for it. If you are looking for some realistic crime/adventure you might check this out, but I recommend most wait for RedBox to pick this flick up.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 6