Sunday, October 30, 2016

"REACHER" SEQUEL STILL GRIPPING

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK
Starring Tom Cruise,
Cobie Smulders,
Danika Yarosh,
Patrick Heusinger,
Aldis Hodge,
Holt McCallany
Directed by Edward Zwick
Written by Richard Wenk,
Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz
Based on the book Never Go Back by Lee Child
Runtime 118 minutes
Rated PG-13


          Another great action movie from Tom Cruise.
          His is an undeniably unique presence in film. All of his off-screen aspects disappear in his movies. Especially in recent years. No one works harder to bring it, and bring it Cruise emphatically does. Say what one will about his personal life, at the end of the day, Cruise's work speaks volumes. Redefining the word ageless yet again, Cruise pulls out the stops and delivers on all counts.
          The previous film establishes the character as a lone wolf military man always on the move, always there to right any wrong. He plays by his own rules. You don't find him, he finds you. And yeah, he's kind of a legend.
          This second time introduces a new problem: instant family. Sort of. Reacher wants to go on a date with a military woman (Smulders) because sometimes they talk on the phone when he's doing his secret missions, and he figures he owes her a date with him. Not one to see past that, she agrees.
          But then, just when it looks like his "owing a dinner" trick might actually work, he finds she's been arrested by military police. Knowing in his lone heart that whatever the problem is, she's innocent, Reacher uses his special fighting skills, as only he can, to break her out and save her.
          Meanwhile, Reacher also learns of a woman who claims that he is the father of her child (Yarosh). Knowing in his lone heart that this cannot be so, Reacher says no.
          It doesn't matter, because the bad guys chasing the date he sprung now know to chase the teenage girl who he says isn't his daughter, but has to save anyway, because that's what he does.
          He's Jack Reacher.
          Ain't exactly The Grapes of Wrath, but what did John Steinbeck ever do for Tom Cruise? He's a lone wolf, now effectively bogged down by family concerns. And yeah, this time, it's personal.
          Standard as it sounds, key factors elevate the material. For one thing, the woman can fight. Echoes of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, especially with the quasi-family unit defending themselves on the run while trying to set things right.
          Better still, we get to see the fight scenes clearly. Too often in films of the last ten years, directors over-edit. Instead of getting to see the action, we're left with an unsatisfying flurry of quick cuts. Not so here, though. Cruise, who produced the movie, seems intent on proving his agelessness. And it works.
          On top of that, there's actually some emotional content. We grow to like the initially annoying kid, and want the family to remain intact.
          Bit of a guilty pleasure? Absolutely.
          Also a good time at the movies? Darn tootin'.

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