The Quick of It -
We have here a failure to communicate. Well… not really.
Jack is back. Based on Lee Child’s novel, ‘Never Go Back’, Reacher finds himself caught up in a government conspiracy. Tom Cruise is the driving force behind these films and I appreciate his efforts. He may not meet the height requirements to compare to Reacher in the novels, but he does a fair enough job to make it worthwhile.
Director Edward Zwick, of THE SIEGE, DEFIANCE, and THE LAST SAMURAI, helms the second film. He brings that similar atmosphere as the first, which was definitely required. With Child’s material, he comes through with a respectable product. But… I think Child’s material also gets in the way.
This film does struggle with certain character qualities. Codie Smulders (of THE AVENGERS series and “How I Met Your Mother”) plays Major Turner who now fills Reacher’s last post with the US Army Military Police. Child likes leading ladies with a strong personality, pushing towards gender equality and peer acceptance. But this script goes a little too far. She comes off as a blowhard and pushing her authority around in the oddest ways, something that you would not see in the service, making for awkward moments. This could be the result of Child, or actually Jim Grant as he is known to the real world, having never served, so is not completely familiar with those pushy officers types.
Then you have the ***spoiler, stop now*** introduction of a possible Reacher-spawn. Yes, he may have a daughter, Samantha, who has suffered through hard times. She is played by Danika Yarosh, of “Heroes Reborn” and “Shameless” notoriety. She also carries the equality-torch for ladies, and results in a way-over-the-top performance. The dialogue is rough and she suddenly has all the solutions with her four or so years of experience being a part of the streets, to prove she is a worthy and a contributing individual.
Seeing these writing flaws makes me feel upset as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, I am actually a bastard when it comes to equality (to a certain degree) in the military. Physically, women as a norm are not as capable as men. I have seen a number of times when tasks are not equally shared while certain (not all) females will still scream at the top of their lungs for equality. Example, you say? How about when in the field and ruck marching (carrying an ass ton of gear on your back and walking for miles). The radio is a shared responsibility when training. It will add an extra 10 pounds, or so, and should be passed around each day among the soldiers (as well as other shared equipment). I have seen plenty of cases where women are looked over to carry this added burden, and other similar physically taxing jobs. Equality means equal to all tasks a job requires, ALL. This is only truer when bullets are flying overhead. To end my little rant, I have no problem with accepting that not all things can be equal, and women are very capable. There are also female soldiers who can handle the physical strain, and welcome them with open arms. But we must all realize not everything can be ‘equal’ for everyone.
Back to Reacher. This is only a fun film to watch, not on the level of the first. The main threat, The Hunter played by Patrick Heusinger (of FRANCES HA, BLACK SWAN, SWEET LAND), gives Reacher a run for his money. He is calculating and skilled, providing a challenging nemesis. But with the two female leads having so much face-time and being a little distracting, he is but a small blip. You almost root for him… this could be a tragic story, instead. NEVER GO BACK maybe a wait for… video… or whatever, but you will miss the great New Orleans rooftop fight on the large screen.