Movie Review: Going Back to Principals

Movie Review: Going Back to Principals
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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It’s hard to argue that anything besides the good old-fashioned action blockbuster at the multiplex is the #1 draw to the movies. And there’s good reason why; almost everyone enjoys the spectacle, the action, and the grandiose size they can be. If it’s soulless, explosive action on the big screen you want – Jack Reacher 2 has you covered.

The sequel to 2012’s Jack Reacher jumps ahead from book one in the series by Lee Child to the 18th (!) which was published just three years ago. Everything about the movie seems familiar; not necessarily shallow, merely unspecial.

Sure there’s the car chases, the fights, and the gunners in an abandoned warehouse. All the standard action archetypes are here. The latter, for instance, is even mocked as a predictable event by the characters in a dull repartee before they fight.

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures.

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures.

Speaking of familiar, you won’t be surprised to see Tom Cruise being typical action-star-Tom-Cruise. This is Cruise’s 18th action movie since 2000 (Yes, that’s more than one each year) and third with director Edward Zwick. Cruise is clearly having fun being so gritty and precise. His bravura carries him well, and he embodies the main idea of the movie: as action packed as it is forgettable.

The basic plot finds ex-military major Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) returning to Washington DC to meet an office colleague named Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders, brimming with much needed charm and crispness). But upon arrival, Reacher discovers she’s been arrested for espionage, and they must outrun the police to clear her name.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the action movie equivalent of a one night stand. Some folks want an exciting action movie with no strings attached. As soon as it’s over, everyone goes home having enjoyed the two hours and cheap thrill they just had.

Even at two hours, however, the pace is like a wild hog stuck in quicksand. For an action movie, there’s a surprising lack of action. The good news is the scenes that aren’t as pulse-pounding have some great heart and vulnerability. It’s nice to see them both, and it makes muddling the surprise dramatic plot and the action chases forgivable.

Until it goes back to the smarmy tone of Richard Wenk, Zwick, and Marshall Herskovitz’s weak screenplay. For instance, the title thinks it’s so cool. That’s probably why it was incorporated into the script – the villain says it while trying to intimidate the main character. It’s hard to remember half of the tough guy banter they exchanged.

Ultimately, Jack Reacher 2 has lots of great sell-out action, and even a few entertaining scenes. It doesn’t make up for easy blandness, but it’s inoffensive at least. And I do hope IHOP got their money’s worth on the product placement. Jack sure does like his hotcakes and coffee.

What I’m still craving is a truly excellent movie to come out and wow audiences. There’s been lots of average ones the last six weeks, but nothing great. Hopefully with several hot titles coming out in the next few weeks, we won’t be disappointed. In the meantime? I guess we’re going back to the usual fare. Never say it isn’t what the people want.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
2 out of 4 Stars

PG, 118 minutes, Action Drama.
Directed by Edward Zwick.
Starring Tom Cruise and Cobie Smulders.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill, and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.


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