By: Felix Felicis (Four Beers) –
There’s a special circle in hell reserved for mediocre movies. It’s one rung above where Teen Mom reruns air and one rung below Die Hard 5. I honestly cannot remember much of the original Jack Reacher other than it rained, something something Jai Courtney, Tom Cruise stole at least one car and then killed some bad guys at an abandoned construction site. I don’t know how much of that synopsis was accurate because my long term memory rejected most of the plot points from Jack Reacher like a back alley liver transplant, so you can imagine my joy upon screening Jack Reacher 2: Never Say Never Go Back. We can only hope Jack Reacher 3: The Reach Around (if they make one because Boo! A Madea Halloween beat it at the box office) features a John Wick crossover where Keanu Reeves murders literally everyone. Including Jack Reacher.
The Jack Reacher film franchise is based on the best-selling series of books by author Lee Child (the first film being based on the ninth book One Shot and the sequel being based off of the eighteenth book Never Go Back– with slight plot whiffs from the third book Tripwire). I confess I didn’t read the novel before sitting down to Never Go Back so, taking everything at face value, this is how Jack Reacher 2: Still Worse Than A Madea Movie breaks down. Jack Reacher aka Tom Cruise is a lone wolf roaming the country anti-hero-style righting wrongs like a barrel-chested Batman, awkwardly flirting with Major Susan Turner aka Maria Hill from the Avengers franchise aka Cobie Smulders along the way before getting sucked up into a whirlwind tornado of international espionage and possible paternity suits while stepping in to fix her unjust arrest for treason and save her life (because it’s really hard to fake chemistry with a corpse).
Tom Cruise nailed it in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, like everything I’ve ever wanted in an action/spy flick and more. The dialogue was great, the action on point, and Cruise absolutely slam-dunked his latest turn as rebel-with-a-cause, Ethan Hunt. Wait, what? Sorry. Forgot I was talking about Cruise’s other franchise flick for a moment there. I can say with absolute certainty I DID NOT catch tetanus from the theater seat AND left to go live-tweet my re-birthday at an 80’s bar later on (check it out here) after the credits rolled on Never Go Back. Which was the perfect title because I never will if it involves another Reacher-round. The best thing Jack Reacher 2 had going for it was that it wasn’t a bad movie. It was just an aggressively mediocre, incredibly boring one. Even Hawk Ripjaw, a fan of the first film, didn’t love the sequel (and he usually loves a good Reach Around).
Cobie Smulders is an incredibly talented actress and Tom Cruise has his less-than-insane moments where we forget he’s a cult-enthusiast-crazy person but literally everyone in Jack Reacher 2 was phoning it in. I’ve seen more in-depth, groundbreaking performances from comatose hamsters and that’s saying something considering I voluntarily watched six hours of a weird, Turkish, subtitled, drama on Netflix today (Lovebird). The bar was not set that high for Never Go Back and Tom Cruise and Co. STILL managed to tunnel under it. The wooden, stilted, forced chemistry between Smulders and Cruise was almost eclipsed in its painful agony by the excruciating paternal “concern” for his maybe-daughter (caught up as a bone of contention between the bad guys and Team Reacher) but any way you slice it these Potter Pals did not deliver a worthwhile show.
The plot holes in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back were larger (and probably possessing better acoustics) than a dealer’s choice Kardashian’s vagina (shoutout to my girl, Baby Ruth). Story arcs and character motivations were so predictable, and yet wildly incomprehensible, that Bob Ross called from painting happy little clouds in his happy little afterlife AND WANTS HIS PAINT-BY-NUMBERS PLOT POINTS BACK. The insane leaps in “logic” necessary to rationalize this series of events is beyond human understanding (ex. the airport showdown where the big bad reveal is explained- no spoilers- BUT WHAT IN THE EVER-LIVING FUCK DOES JACK REACHER MUMBLING SOMETHING ABOUT NUMBERS TRANSLATE TO HIM FIGURING OUT HOW TO SAVE THE DAY AT THE LAST MINUTE BECAUSE LEAPS IN LOGIC ARE HIS STRONG SUIT?!).
My biggest problem with Never Go Back was that it had all the elements necessary to succeed: a solid cast, decent action, built in fanbase, etc. and yet this flick flatlined harder than frat guys playing Edward Forty Hands. The characters were tepid, the dialogue static to the point of predictable white noise, and the tension almost nonexistent. If I’m checking a fake watch I haven’t owned or worn since getting a cell phone in 2004 while Jack Reacher is making someone look deeply into his eyes before he kills them (I’m assuming with extreme boredom), then you’re doing something wrong, Hollywood. Jack Reacher 2 was a piece of baloney slapped in-between two dry slices of white bread; sure, it’ll feed you, but only in the most technical sense.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was a movie. Yes it was. Very movie. Much movie. It moved and eeed. Bigly.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every “Major-Not-Major” exchange.
Do a Shot: each time the teen thief goes klepto.
Take a Sip: for every all-out sprint.
Take a Drink: for every evil mastermind maneuver.
Shotgun your Beer: when Jack’s evil twin gets snap, crackled and popped.