Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Starring: Tom Cruise ,Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Rating: ****(4 Stars)
Thankfully, the film’s title tagline cannot be taken on its face value. Jack Reacher is a film and character that we simply had to go back to.No two ways about it.And that we are doing so at this point of time when marriages and other social institutions are falling apart, is exceedingly important.
Tom Cruise has arrived at a stage in his career where his handsome personality needs to be substantiated by roles that redefine his celluloid heroism beyond the physical stunts.Okay we’ve seen him plunge down skyscrapers. He really can’t keep doing what’s expected him(you know, be smart be sassy be cool).
This time Cruise is ready and willing to show the emotional bruise . His character Jack Reacher is a loner. He says so himself at one point of rare self- confession(this guy doesn’t like talking about himself). He is an army renegade and a social misfit .And he likes it that way.
So what happens when he is thrown together in a bright motel room with two other misfits, both female? The great joy of watching Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is to see Cruise and his attractive co-star Cobie Smudlers(she is the blend of the athletic and erotic that Priyanka Chopra tries to be) clumsily attempting parenting to a 15-year old girl Sam(Danish Yarosh) who may or may not be his biological daughter.
It’s like watching three strangers playing ‘housie’ on a particularly exciting day when the Gods have decided to rain an unseasonal harvest .As the awkward trio tries to create an inhabitable space for themselves within the given ambit of their shared awkwardness, a deadly assassin(Patrick Heusinger) hunts them down until theyoung girl is left to fend for herself.
“She is on the streets. That’s what I’d do,” surmises Reacher reaching out to the endangered girl. So is she or is she not his daughter?
The blend of a clenched action and reined-in emotions, some of it smartly and tenderly shot within the confines of residential space, is uniquely executed. The acting by the three principal actors is far superior than the material outwardly suggests.Tom Cruise plays it so lowkey we have to search his face for clues to his emotions. He won’t give anything away easily.The last time I saw Cruise so much in control of his character’s turbulent emotions was in The Last Samurai, also directed by Edward Zwick. Maybe Cruise and Zwick should do a sequel to Top Gun.It’s never too late. That’s what this film tells us.
The two ladies he is thrown together with are tough and tender, put through the blender of a political crisis far too immense to be comprehended let alone controlled by three fugitives . But no harm in trying, is there? Jack Reacher: Never Go Back re-visits the vintage era of espionage thrillers when the action did not overpower the drama. The director executes the plot of illegal arms deals by a rebellious faction of the American army , with a firmly-concealed bravura.
The action scenes when they happen, are done with a pinned-down flair. The film moves forward like a tightly-wound well-oiled machine. It is smart supple and sassy but never willing to overreach itself. The climactic outbreak shot amidst the colour vivacity and din of a street carnival in New Orleans ,is a feast of tasteful flamboyance broken into by bouts of bone crunching action.
But what stayed with me was the finale when Reacher meets his screen daughter for the last time. By then it doesn’t matter whether she is his daughter or not. What we see is Tom Cruise the father reaching into his paternal emotions deep within to confer his character with a credible emotional reservoir.
Not just Tom Cruise finest hour, this is a film that does the espionage genre proud. What it says about the spy films is that the real intrigue is not to be tamed by the nozzle of the gun , and obtained in places which confidential government files have no record of.