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Earlier in the day, I'd had a minor surgery, and was staying at a hotel nearby. The *last* thing I felt like was something mentally taxing, so I went for some mind candy - something fun, entertaining, and utterly devoid of substance. I remember really liking "Jack Reacher," and the trailer I saw for the sequel (the one with Tom Cruise sitting in a bar, getting arrested by a cocky sherriff, and saying the phone would ring in 90 seconds, etc.), looked like mindless fun as well, so why not "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back?" Sometimes in life, all you want is a hot fudge sundae, you know? *** SPOILER ALERT *** There's a *lot* of opening action in this film - in fact, that whole trailer comes at the very beginning, and I had high hopes about this being another "Rambo-like" Jack Reacher movie. I was wrong, sort of. A lot of the first thirty minutes came at the fictional Fort Dyer in Washington, DC, and DC locals will enjoy seeing a lot of familiar scenery. Reacher's (Tom Cruise) Army contact - whom he has never met - Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) has been framed for espionage when he finally gets around to meeting her, and in fact, when Reacher goes to see her at the high-value prisoner detention unit at Fort Dyer, he, too, is framed for murder, and is held there (big mistake). Fort Dyer is actually in Washington, DC-proper, and Reacher is somehow able to get to Turner and make an impossible escape, beating or outwitting about ten people in the process - less than thirty minutes into this film, Jack Reacher is in full whip-ass mode, and I'm thinking this is going to be perfect for what I wanted. It's really funny that, since this is inside of Washington, DC, their final escape from Fort Dyer was inside a *food truck* (or was it?) - if this movie were made just ten years ago, they would have had to hijack a hot-dog cart. <--- "But we're not illegal aliens! We swear! Oh, wait a minute ... it's still 2016." While Reacher and Turner are in a taxi, Turner comments, "Hey, I like your hat ..." <--- " ... you a Nats fan?" Cabbie replies, "Yeah, from the beginning." And in the next scene, Reacher and Turner are at an Internet Cafe on Pennsylvania Avenue and (the fictional) "North Street," and she's wearing the hat: I guess the driver made a tidy profit in that little exchange. When the "initial act" of the film is over, and Reacher and Turner are safe inside a motel, with Reacher positively reveling in a hot shower, we see a man referred (in Amazon X-Ray; he has no name yet in the film) as "The Hunter" on the film with a General - General Harkness (Robert Knepper) - which confirms the obvious: This plot goes all the way up to very, very high levels. "The Hunter," btw, has shown himself to be a total, complete bad-ass, on a par with Reacher - he's going to make an interesting protagonist and a formidable opponent to the seemingly superhuman Reacher. A very simple - perhaps too simple - question: Why doesn't Turner simply type a long, explanatory note, and send it to every newspaper in the country, naming names? She doesn't have to change her strategy, but people will be implicated whether she's killed or not. Remember "The Shawshank Redemption?" That's the only thing that took the warden down (in a rather effective fashion, I will add). One flaw comes about 1'10" into the film - Reacher "tries to apologize" to Turner for being somewhat condescending. While that might appeal to a broad cross-section of film watchers, I enjoyed "Jack Reacher" because he was a cold-blooded loner - he could separate good from bad - but that's all he was willing to do. I do not to see a fairly extended scene of him apologizing to a woman because he may have say something that got under her skin; the reason I enjoy Reacher is because he's a quasi-superhero, like Rambo (imagine Rambo doing the same thing, or maybe he did as the series got on in age). What I'm saying is that there's an undertone of romance here that is misplaced in this film. All this said, there's a "subtext to the subtext" which would certainly explain Reacher softening up in certain, confined situations, so it's at least understandable. Another interesting sub-theme (and I have to admit, I've seen almost *no* contemporary movies is) that they dabble with the opiate problem in the United States. (I think they might have meant opioid, not opiate, but that's the word they used.) There was great, unnoticed pun during this scene, when Reacher says, "Turn her?" and then Espin (Aldis Hodge) exclaims, "Major!" Incidentally, Turner performed all her own stunts in this film. The last half-hour of this film turned away from being a "Jack Reacher" movie, and turned into a generic Tom Cruise action flick - there was more action than you can remember (in fact, I'll remember very little about this film a week from now). I wish I could recommend this to people who enjoyed the first Jack Reacher film, but my guess is that it's probably something more like "Mission Impossible," or <pick-your-own non-stop action thriller>. I'm not sorry I watched it, because I needed it when I did, but I'd never watch it again, and I'm not looking forward to the next sequel.
I feel like I just ate an entire box of Chips Ahoy! cookies. I am so ashamed that I have now watched - and enjoyed - "Jack Reacher," the Tom Cruise action thriller from 2012, but so I did. Sometimes, multiple external factors converge to make you want nothing but the cheapest, most escapist brand of diversion, and such was it with me, and the previews for the Reacher sequel which just came out were enough to reel me in for the most tawdry brand of entertainment there is. And I enjoyed it. This was my beach book, my Robert Ludlum, my Twilight Zone without the historical significance. I'd enter a spoiler alert, except there's nothing to spoil, any more than me taking pictures of the Domino's pizza that arrived, twenty minutes into the film. And I'm kidding about the pizza. But the movie was perfect within its genre, and I'm actually looking forward to the sequel.