Direction: Edward Zwick; Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobi smolders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger; Story: based from Lee Child`s 18th Reacher novel “Never Go Back”; Screenplay: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz; Cinematography: Oliver Wood; Editing: Billy Weber; Music: Henry Jackman; Producers: Tom Cruise, Don Granger, Christopher McQuarrie; Genre: Action -Thriller: Location: USA; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Running Time:130 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG
Jack Reacher (Cruise) is back and this time he allies with Major Susan Turner (Smulders) to help him arrest criminals across America. He develops fondness for the Major and arranges to finally meet her and probably date her. But when he arrives in the camp quarters, he learns the Major has been arrested for treason. Suspecting foul play, Reacher investigates and outsmarts authorities to break Turner out of prison before henchmen murder her. Along the way, he is told that a paternity suit has been filed against him and that he is the father of 15-year-old street smart Samantha (Yarosh). Thinking Sam is Reacher’s daughter, a paid assassin called “The Hunter” (Heusinger) goes after her, forcing Reacher to take her along in their quest to uncover the truth. The trio travel to New Orleans to question the only eyewitness to the case, clear Turner and Reacher’s name from the murders they have been framed for and keep Samantha safe from assassins trying to teach Reacher a lesson.
British writer Child’s Reacher novels are about the adventures of an American military-cop-turned-vigilante who hitchhikes across his broken country seeking justice that institutions and politicians deny him. How does Reacher in the novels compare with Reacher in the movies? What Jack Reacher had in the first movie that viewers fell in love with is diluted in this sequel. For one, Reacher’s street smart analysis and quick wittedness is overrated. The action is poorly paced and screaming for conciseness. The rawness of his character is replaced with a glossy Hollywood caricature. The father-son daughter is stretched so thinly it fails to deliver any authentic connection with the viewers. We do not think the narrative would have suffered if her subplot was removed, more so because the Samantha character comes across as annoying. (Is that the natural outcome for children of an obscure paternity?) The character development and dialogue are sometimes too cliché and cheesy. Overall, the movie benefits from good performances from Cruise and Smulders, the clean technical direction, but falls bland and formulaic. It is not that bad but it is not any good with or without the predecessor. The title should serve as a subtle warning.
Quest for the truth comes with a cost. You take risks and go the extra mile just to make sure that the truth is revealed, protected, and respected. There are many instances in Jack Reacher when the quest for truth was the motivation of the characters: Reacher finding out if Sam was his daughter, Turner’s men investigating the involvement of a general in arms and opium trade, Turner herself clearing her name and giving justice to the death of the men, Sam looking for the connection between herself and Reacher. The quest for their truths came at a very heavy and disturbing cost….mostly violence and dead bodies. Could it have been done otherwise? Not with the chosen narrative flow of the director; not in an amoral world of espionage and megalomania. It seems that violence was the framework of the film that Reacher’s brand of honesty, Turner’s patriotic integrity, and even Samantha’s street smart instincts gave way to say that was the only way to stay alive and protect the truth.