Originally Published on Salty Popcorn - You Can Find Several Other Reviews By Jack Dignan Here As Well
Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a ghost. He travels from city to city, never really settling down, but staying wherever he wants for as long as he needs. During his travels, he’s become somewhat of a pen pal (are you still a pen pal if it’s phone conversations?) with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), and it’s pretty safe to say the two have developed quite the crush on each other, despite never actually meeting. So, Reacher arrives in Washington DC, where Turner is stationed, but upon arrival, he’s given news he wasn’t expecting. Major Turner has been arrested for espionage and is being held in prison.
As a film reviewer, I get to see most new release films before they hit theatres. Because of this, more often than not, the films usually have an embargo in place, meaning I’m not allowed to publish my review of that film until a certain date or time, so that the studio can choose an appropriate time to raise the hype for a movie. I saw JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK earlier this week, and the embargo was placed for 12:01am on Thursday October 20th, which is the film’s release date here in Australia. That means the studio didn’t want people to know if the film was good or not until the day of release.
No matter what your feelings are towards the guy, the fact that Tom Cruise does all of his own stunts is admirable, whether it’s climbing along the outside of the tallest building in the world or holding onto a plane as it takes off. Both are impressive, and both just so happen to be from the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise, which I love to pieces, even MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 as it’s one of the most over the top, ridiculous action films ever. The JACK REACHER series is not nearly on the same level as MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, no matter how hard it tries to be. Sure, they both star Tom Cruise as a stoic hero who kicks a lot of ass, but one of the main differences between the two franchises is the quality of the action.
DIE HARD is one of my favourite movies of all time, and all that happens in that is the almighty Bruce Willis trying to rescue people inside a building. RAMBO and PREDATOR, while distinctly different movies in terms of plot, both feature a man just trying to survive oncoming attacks. They’re simple plots that are used effectively to tell the story they’re trying to tell, and they make for some of the most entertaining movies of all time. Now, this doesn’t mean I want every action film to have a simple plot. I do love a good, complex action thriller, but JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK tries so very hard to make its plot complex that it just doesn’t work.
Not only does the film try to be more complex than it has any right to be, it also manages to somehow be mind bogglingly stupid. Sure, I mean, if Jack Reacher wants to go out of his way to break someone out of prison that he hasn’t actually met, then get himself involved in a complicated, life threatening scenario just because he’s convinced this stranger is innocent, then go for it. I’m not going to stop him. I’m just going to not-so-secretly judge him. He makes the wildest jumps to conclusions all the time, and they all come out of nowhere. I couldn’t buy into anything he was doing or saying, and that’s because everything he does is just insanely dumb. There is a scene early on where Reacher and Major Turner go to a public internet café to try and log into a high security government website using Major Turner’s logins, knowing full well that the people after them will discover their location and come get them. Why they were surprised when the baddies actually came is beyond me.
For all those who are seeking out an entertaining action flick starring Tom Cruise, there’s five perfectly good MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies waiting for you at home. JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK once again attempts to turn the JACK REACHER books into a movie franchise, and it does so to unsuccessful, usually stupid results. The action is fine at times, I suppose, and I guess the performances aren’t too bad, but everything else just doesn’t mash well together at all.