Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
A widely released action movie starring Tom Cruise shouldn’t need people rushing to its defense, but I’ve spent the past four years sticking up for Jack Reacher. Christopher McQuarrie’s cinematic take on Lee Child‘s long-running series of novels about a homeless military police veteran who wanders the country solving problems with both his keen wits and his fists is nothing short of fantastic, an old-school, small-scale thriller that feels like it was made for, well, adults. The action is rough and intimate. The central mystery thoroughly engaging. The characters are rich and often very funny. It even features a brilliantly staged, low-key car chase that puts the bombast of most modern blockbusters to shame. Jack Reacher is the real deal.
As we approach the October release date of the sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, I find myself equally excited and trepidatious in equal measure. Cruise is back, but McQuarrie is not, with Edward Zwick now sitting in the director’s chair. Zwick has made good movies and bad movies, but he’s a solid journeyman when paired with the right material. Is a Jack Reacher sequel the right material? Can a new poster and extended TV spot answer that question?
Zwick has showcased a strong eye for action in the past and he’s worked with Cruise before on 2003’s The Last Samurai, so there’s plenty of promise here. And yet, it remains to be seen if he can match the hard-boiled and merciless filmmaking McQuarrie brought to the first movie. I have no doubt in my mind that he can deliver a slick and effective thriller, but it remains to be seen if the final film can go above and beyond the call of duty.
Here’s that TV spot, which does a fine job of showing off why Cruise is an inexplicably good choice to play a character who is described as being a hulking pile of blonde hair and muscles in the original novels. He may not have the stature of his literary counterpart, but his inherent smugness is perfect for Jack Reacher, who is always the smartest guy in the room and is always well aware of that fact.
I enjoyed the first Jack Reacher so much that I started digging into Child’s books and they’re so much fun, blending intrigue and politics with plenty of head-smashing violence and pulpy tough-guy narration. Part of me is a little annoyed that the movies are jumping around the character’s timeline (the first movie was based on the ninth book in the series and the sequel on the eighteenth), but that’s the nitpickiest nitpick I’ve ever dropped in a public forum.
Here’s the official synopsis for the new film:
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back follows the title character as he returns to Virginia to meet the head of his former unit. But she’s missing, he’s being charged with a crime committed nearly 20 years ago, and he may even have a daughter. Making things right will lead him on a cross-country chase to uncover the truth – and maybe even a family.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opens on October 21, 2016. Like the first movie, the new poster leans heavily on ra-ra patriotic imagery, depicting Reacher in front of a waving American flag. This remains an amusing choice, since the literary Jack Reacher and his cinematic counterpart are about as jaded and cynical as you can get.