HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
HTS Overall Score:81
It seems that we’re in a month of sequel reviews. Although, I can’t think of a better film to have a sequel to than 2013’s “Jack Reacher”. “Jack Reacher” was one of those sleeper hits that really had me grinning from ear to ear. Say what you want about Tom Cruise, but no matter what he makes or how bad the movie actually is, HE is the star of the show and has never let me down. Like Will Smith he’s wildly charismatic and his movies have never failed to entertain me, even if I have to admit that they’re not the greatest films in the world. Fans of the book series have complained that the Jack Reacher inside “Jack Reacher” was not exactly the same person as Lee Childs’ books, and they would be right. They’re most definitely not the same character. What we have in the movie is Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise with the general premise of the Childs books. As a purist that mildly irritates me, but as someone who enjoys the first movie for what it was I just sat back and had a blast. Now fast forward almost 4 years (wow, it’s been that long) and we get to see Cruise back in the saddle once more for what will hopefully be another fun ride. Unfortunately, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” makes you feel like Tom really DIDN’T want to go back. Instead it feels like a contractual obligation as Cruise turns in a lazy performance as Reacher and even Cobie Smulders can’t spark some excitement out of the well-trodden premise.
Reacher has been working with the military for some time now, and the film opens up once again with a crime already in progress. This time there’s no sniper taking pot shots at innocents, but rather Jack taking out a couple of local sheriffs who are kidnapping people on Army property. After being called back his Army Liaison, Major Turner (Cobie Smulders), Reacher (Tom Cruise) finds out that she’s been relieved of command for espionage. Deeply suspicious about the circumstances regarding her incarceration and the subsequent charges, Reacher starts digging around finds out that things aren’t exactly as it seem. Turner is being railroaded for no apparent reason and instead of just letting things play out the rogue ex-military cop takes matters into his own hands.
Busting Major Turner out of lockup, Reacher uncovers a plot that goes deeper than he ever expected. A rogue government contracting agency is hot on their trail and seems desperate to silence the pain in any way possible. To top it off a 15-year-old girl named Samantha (Danika Yarosh) has surfaced claiming to be Reacher’s long lost daughter, and is now the under the same crosshairs that he and Major Turner are under. With everything to lose and nothing to really gain, Reacher and Turner take Samantha under their protection while they try and figure out just who is after them and WHY they are being target out of the blue.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=89794[/img]“Never Go Back” is technically solid production, with all the earmarks of your typical military/action thriller. The cast is solid as well, but sadly it feels like a rather empty affair in comparison to the first movie. Cruise is a massively charismatic actor and never fails to entertain, even if the cast around him is mediocre. This time if feels like the exact opposite has happened. Cruise looks and acts like this is a contractual obligation for him instead of just having fun in the role. The excitement and intensity of the first movie is replaced by mechanical acting and a look on his face that says “can someone just yell cut”? Cobie Smulders has been getting better and better with her subsequent “big name” acting roles and she takes the brunt of the good acting here. Although there’s not a whole lot she can do when the entire project feels generic. Danika Yarosh is rather solid for a young actress, and I have no real complaints from her (and she strangely REALLY reminds me of a young Anna Paquin from the first “X-Men” movie. Something my wife even commented on as well).
I’m really surprised at Edward Zwick was helming “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”, and that it turned out this mediocre too. The same man behind “Glory” and “Blood Diamond” seemed like it would be the perfect pairing with Cruise, but the proof is in the pudding and this pudding is only so so. Now with these criticisms you may think that this is an abomination or a horrible movie. That’s not the case at all. It’s a serviceable film that has a great technical presentation and some fun action sequences. I personally was entertained and had a good time with the movie. I just felt that it was a bit generic and a definite step down in quality from its predecessor. Especially with Cruise apparently bored out of his skull the whole time. Basically, a solid rental with some promised but I wouldn’t go into it thinking that you’re getting the same wild fun that you had with “Jack Reacher”.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=89802[/img]“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is one of the ever-rarer movies that are shot on ACTUAL 35mm film. I’m a HUGE fan of movies using film stock, even though I have a love of crisp, clear digital films as well, and “Never Go Back” certainly makes the most of the format. Supposedly the movie was mastered with a 2K digital interpository, and the results are quite filmic and mostly spectacular. Fine detail is sharp and clear, with the lines and creases on Tom Cruise’s face readily apparent, as is the little textures and nuances of stone walls or wrinkled clothing. Colors are actually rather neutral and don’t show a whole lot of color grading. Sometimes skin tones can look a little “bright”, but overall the contrast is well balanced and the night time sequences show no issues with banding or other black level related issues. In fact, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is one fine looking Blu-ray disc and fans should have no irritations or problems to complain about.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=89810[/img]Paramount once again gives us a stellar Atmos audio experience to go along with a day and date action movie. I’ve become very accustomed to the attention to detail that seems to go along with these next gen tracks and this is no different. Highly nuanced and full of activity, the Atmos (or TrueHD 7.1 core depending on your audio equipment) is a blast to listen to (sometimes quite literally). Dialog is localized right in the front of the sound stage and the rears and overheads punctuate the quitter bits with sounds of fully automatic gunfire or the sounds of Reacher jumping off a building and crashing into another. Footsteps scraping on a floor, a creak of door in the background, or the sound of a helicopter thwapping its rotors overhead. All of these have are replicated perfectly with pinpoint precision no matter the location in the room. Strangely the LFE is not AS thunderous as I would have expected, but it is still quite a sonic experience. The same goes for the use of the overheads in the Atmos experience. There’s some good movement overhead with a helicopter, as well as some of the rooftop battles, but they tend to be a little more conservative than I was expecting.
• Reacher Returns
• An Unexpected Family
• Relentless: On Location in Louisiana
• Take Your Revenge First: Lethal Combat
• No Quarter Given: Rooftop Battle
• Reacher in Focus: With Tom Cruise and Photographer David James
“Jack Reacher” was as sleeper hit for this reviewer back in 2013. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I was blown away how much dumb fun it was. Cruise is energetic, Rosamund Pike was fantastic and Jai Courtney actually played a good character for once. I was really hoping that the sequel would at least be close on its heels, but sadly it feels a bit more like a contractual obligation on Cruise’s part which makes the whole move feel a lot less enjoyable. “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is a competent action movie with a fairly predictable plot, and I had a decent amount of fun, but those of you who really loved 2013’s “Jack Reacher” will feel a little bit let down by the dip in quality between the two films. Audio and video are stellar for a new release, and the extras are actually quite nice (I don’t know whether every version of the film will have this, but mine also came with an oversized slipcover that housed a “Jack Reacher” comic book as well). Recommended for a decent rental.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodges
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Written by: Edward Zwick, Richard Wenk
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish, French (Canadian), Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 118 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Buy Jack Reacher: Never Go Back On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Jack Reacher: Never Go Back On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Recommended for a rental
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