Jack Reacher: Never
Go Back (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 118 minutes.
OK for children.
Author Lee Child
takes pains in every one of his books about his protagonist, Jack
Reacher, to describe him as being a giant of a man, 6-5, 245 lbs. He is
described as so imposing a figure that whenever he walks into a room,
people stare in awe. So for the millions of fans of Childís books, to
even conceive of a man as short as Tom Cruise, who is 5-7 on a good day,
playing Jack Reacher is as incongruous as Marilyn Monroe playing Abraham
While a movie should
stand on its own, apart from the book from which it may be derived,
still it is a bad decision to cast somebody who is not anything like the
man tens of millions of readers have come to know and love. When they
were casting Gone with the Wind (1939), virtually everyone who read the
book pictured Clark Gable as Rhett Butler. If producer David O. Selznick
had cast somebody like Jimmy Stewart (already an MGM mainstay) as Rhett
instead of Clark, people would have been so disappointed that itís
unlikely that the film would be remembered as one of the greatest and
most popular of all time. In fact, Gable was reluctant to take the part
because he felt he could never live up to the expectations of those
millions of people who loved Margaret Mitchellís book. He did take it,
however, and he fulfilled every expectation.
This is not a bad
movie. Itís a typical Reacher story in which he is virtually alone
against the world with enormous forces against him. He takes himself
into a deep hole which seems impossible for anybody to survive.
During a telephone
conversation he takes a shine to Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), an
officer who succeeded him in his position with the army, so goes to
Washington, D.C. to see her, only to discover that sheís been arrested.
Naturally, Reacher feels he needs to take on the entire Army to rescue
her and to find the bad guys who are orchestrating everything, which
begins a chase that ends up in New Orleans.
Cruise is a good
enough actor that if this were just a film about somebody named Jack
Smith, it would be a good actioner. But seeing little Tom Cruise taking
on four big bad brutes at the same time stretches credulity to the
breaking point, despite the Hollywood magic of camera angles and such
that make Cruise seem bigger than he really is. Itís not the box that
5-5 Alan Ladd had to stand on to kiss some of his costars; itís a lot
more subtle than that. Still, the bottom line is that Tom is no Jack
Reacher, and that alone comes close to ruining the movie. We can only
hope that author Lee Child didnít commit his entire franchise to Cruise
and that the next iteration will have someone who faithfully represents
the Reacher who appears in all the books.