The Sunday Mail
Tinashe Kusema The Big & Small Screen —
CAN someone please tell me; what is Paramount Pictures doing with the whole Jack Reacher thing?
I mean — when you have a well-established piece of literature, how do you go on to mess it all up in a movie? Lee Child has penned over 20 novels based on the Reacher character. The latest and 21st novel, “Night School”, was released last month and is already making waves.
Admittedly, Child is no J.K. Rowling and it is highly unlikely that the Jack Reacher big screen adaptation will ever rise to the same critical acclaim of the Harry Potter movies. That said, Paramount will at least make some big bucks should they try and turn the two movies into a well-established franchise.
Then, you have Mr Cruise, Tom Cruise. Forget Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and his supposed super power of shooting any franchise into the stratosphere, Tom Cruise is the real Mr Franchise.
With Cruise turning 55 next year, odds are his time with the Mission Impossible franchise is now limited. Jack Reacher should be the next step. The guy embodies the role like nobody could ever have imagined.
His performances in the first two movies so far has been refreshing and odds are we will see him again as the former navy general turned drifter beating up bad guys and taking names.
My problem, so far, has been the lack of effort from Paramount Pictures. The writing has been shoddy at best. The performances from Tom Cruise, in the first two movies, have been the film’s only saving grace.
One could always argue that they are still testing the waters and applying the “slow burn effect” like John Singleton did with the “Fast and the Furious” franchise. If memory serves me right, and it usually does, the movie only kicked into high gear around the fourth instalment.
“Fast and the Furious” five, six and seven suffered from this hesitation to pull the trigger as efforts had to be made to link timelines.
I will expand more about this next year when “Fast and Furious” eight is released and I review it. Now, back to Jack Reacher.
The latest instalment in the Jack Reacher story “Never Go Back”, picks up sometime after the events of the 2012 movie.
Reacher (Cruise) returns to his old military base to meet up with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) who he has been liaising with and assisting on cases for months. Unfortunately upon arrival, Reacher is immediately informed that Turner has been arrested for espionage and he has outstanding warrants for an old murder and a child paternity suit.
In typical hero fashion, Reacher sets out to investigate Turner’s case, whom he believes has been framed and seeks to build a bond with a now 15-year-old daughter, Samantha Dayton (Danika Yarosh), he never knew he had.
The plot is paper thin, predictable and a classic case of lazy writing. There are no big reveals, twists and the protagonist General James Harkness (Robert Knepper) is totally wasted.
I mean how do you sign on Knepper to a movie then limit his presence, dialogue and general involvement? Countless minutes were wasted on a game of one-upmanship between Cruise’s Reacher and Harkness’ henchman/assassin (Patrick Heusinger).
They did not even bother giving the guy a name but for some reason spent countless times on dialogue, fight scenes and wasted airtime on the character and Reacher. Have these guys seen Knepper and some of his works? I wonder.
For those not in the know, Knepper is the guy who played Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell on “Prison Break” and was the protagonist (Johnson) again on the flop of a movie “Transporter 3”.
Now, this is not to say that “Jack Reacher — Never Go Back” is all bad. Performance-wise, three names really save this movie and are in the end the difference between this movie being a total drag and it being watchable.
Cruise is obviously the star of the show. He does what only he can do best. His line delivery, fight scenes and general demeanour really brings this role to life.
It is going to be hard reading all 20 books without picturing Cruise in the starring role. Yes, he is that good. Smulders and Yarosh also deserve special mention for keeping up pace with Cruise.
Smulders is like the female version of Reacher, albeit without the glow of Cruise. These two, together with Yarosh, demonstrate great chemistry and I hope they will go on to form the core of the franchise going forward.