Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back has recently come out on BluRay and DVD!  We loved it in theaters (of course), and it was great seeing it again in the comfort of our own home.  We hope you’ll enjoy reading our true and correct opinions on this flick.

Smartass Summary: The second one from those books!

Slightly less smartass summary: Guy tries to make it with a chick, but work interferes.

Ok ok, REAL summary:Bad guys try to kill the good guys, but somewhat ruthless hero gets the bad guys instead.

Overall opinion:
Buttered Popcorn likes this movie a lot! There’s plenty of action and adventure, with a nice balance of humor and a touch of tender feelings. One of the talking points of the movie is that we will get to see a different side of Reacher, and we do. But never fear! He’s still the hard-hitting badass that we fell in love with in the first Reacher movie, and there’s plenty of bone-crushing, jaw-breaking fighting to feed your Reacher needs!

***Spoilers beyond this point!***

Fun moments:
One of the best parts of a Reacher movie is the humor! Jack will literally break every bone in your body, but there’s something about his dry looks and casual attitude that makes us smile. What are our favorite moments from Never Go Back? Let’s see.

“You’re under no obligation to say anything, Major.” This scene was hilarious! There’s just something wonderful about Reacher sitting there staring, deadpan, at Col. Morgan while he asks question after question. Priceless!

“I’m used to being alone.” Reacher trying to connect with ANYONE (with the exception of Sgt. Leach) is just the funniest thing EVER. When Sam is trying to process the murder of her benefactors, and the fact that she is still in danger, and she says, “I feel sick” – Reacher’s matter-of-fact “Just put your head out the window” makes us giggle every time. When he brings dinner for Sam and Maj. Turner, and Sam blithely shuts the door in his face, when he tries to apologize and make nice with Turner – it’s the most awkward thing in the _universe_. All of it brings a smile to our faces – especially since Tom Cruise is one of the most personable people alive. Tom acting like he doesn’t know how to behave around a teenager ought to be proof positive of his amazing acting chops (if 30+ years of stellar work wasn’t good enough for ya).

“You’re very intense, you know that?” When Samantha objects to wearing a uniform and going into hiding at an elite private school, Reacher takes her aside, looks deeply into her eyes, and says, “Do you want to live? Do you?” He demands cooperation, and when he’s done, Sam says, “You’re very intense, you know that?” It’s such a fun moment, especially if you know anything at all about Tom Cruise “lore”. Many people have described interacting with him as “intense”, and it tickled us pink to see this in the film. It’s nice to see a serious actor who can laugh at himself.

“What kind of car would my lawyer be driving?” Just… You know what, we’re not even gonna give it away. We went and got a screencap and everything and just… please watch this movie.

Deep Themes:
Once again, most people don’t expect there to be a ton of depth from an action movie (especially, for some reason, from a Tom Cruise action movie). But we have noticed that there are always themes that are meant to touch our hearts, or get us thinking (especially in Tom Cruise action movies). Never Go Back touches on many themes, from patriotism and duty to opportunistic avarice, to the relationship between parent and child. We’ll highlight two themes that we thought were handled nicely in the movie.

Family is what you make it.
Never Go Back presents us with three characters who have been thrown together through an elaborate chain of circumstances. When the action begins, Turner and Reacher have communicated sporadically for several weeks, it seems, but they have never met face to face. Samantha comes into the picture after the bad guys target her for her possible connection to Reacher.

The last thing any of them wants is to be stuck together. All three characters are firmly entrenched in lives that allow them independence and autonomy. Even Turner, who must follow strict military codes, is in charge of her own unit. Their independence and self reliance makes working together quite a difficult (and often hilarious) challenge.

Reacher is stilted and awkward when dealing with Sam (and only slightly less so with Turner). It’s obvious he’s used to dealing with adults, either in the military, or in situations where he doesn’t have to talk at all. And he has long ago left the rigid formality of military life, so despite their common background, connecting with Turner has its own difficulties.

Turner is only slightly better with Sam. She’s accustomed to obedience and order, and she clings to her military training even as her world is being torn apart. Sam’s defiance, and Reacher’s reckless disregard for protocol, tend to keep her off balance. And of course, Samantha has been thrust into the temporary custody of two strangers, both of whom expect her to follow instructions and lay low while the adults take care of things, when she has been taking care of herself for years.

What we see as the movie unfolds are three independent, hard-headed puzzle pieces who gradually, awkwardly, sometimes painfully shuffle themselves into a fairly well-fitting whole. Samantha learns to trust her impromptu caretakers, and they learn to trust her. Reacher and Turner come to a better understanding of one another, and each begins to trust when the other’s particular method may be better suited to a given situation. The three of them grow on each other (and on the audience!). By the end, as director Ed Zwick says, you find yourself wanting their little family to work out.

You’re allowed to change your mind.
During Reacher’s railroad trip to jail, we meet Cpt. Anthony Espin, who had served under Reacher while he was still in charge of the 110th. We learn (pretty darn fast) that Espin has a huge chip on his shoulder against Reacher. Apparently, Reacher held back Espin’s promotion for six months, accusing him of jumping to conclusions. Reacher offers something like an olive branch when he says, “I’m sure I jumped to conclusions.” Of course, a few minutes later, any truce that may have been brewing is completely off the table.

What’s great about all this? Buttered Popcorn loves the fact that both men are able to re-evaluate their opinions of one another. Espin begins as an antagonist, resenting Reacher, hunting both Reacher and Turner. And Reacher has been an antagonist to Espin, kicking his ass and getting him in a little bit of trouble for letting two prisoners escape. But when the chips are down, Espin doesn’t let his personal resentment blind him to the truth, and Reacher doesn’t let his own misgivings stop him from following Turner into trusting the younger officer. And in the end, thanks to their willingness to see each other in a new light, justice is served!

Favorite Quotes:

  • “I’m the guy you didn’t count on.” (Reacher to Sherriff)
  • “You’re very intense.  You know that?” (Sam to Reacher)
  • “Let me know when you remember what that uniform stands for.” (Reacher to Moorcroft)
  • “Just put your head out the window.” (Reacher to Sam)
  • “I’m used to working alone.  I’m used to being alone.” (Reacher to Turner)
  • “You’re like something feral, you’ve got their  scent in your nose and all you want is blood!” (Turner to Reacher)
  • “I’m going to break your arms.  I’m going to break your legs. I’m going to break your neck.  What you hear is excitement.” (Reacher to The Hunter)

Favorite Character: Jack Reacher! Duh!  Here’s a few great things about Jack Reacher:

  • He’s an ass-kicker. He will FUCK the bad guys UP, and it is so gratifying to see them get taken down.
  • He’s a good person. Much as he seems like a cold kind of an ass who doesn’t know how people operate, he is actually kind when it matters.  He might not know how to comfort you after a loss, or encourage you when you’re feeling self conscious, but he will destroy your enemies if he cares about you.
  • He’s smart. Reacher is able to quickly synthesize all his experience, all his knowledge, and all the current circumstances, and transmit that into actions that help save his life, and the lives of those around him.  He had a few false steps here (he didn’t notice the guys following him while he was following Sam), but he more than made up for it later (salt shaker, people. salt shaker.)

Behind the Scenes Trivia:

  • Cobie Smulders, Patrick Heusinger and Tom Cruise did stunt and fight training, and maintained a strict diet for several weeks before filming started.
  • Tom and Ed Zwick last worked together on The Last Samurai.  Zwick said that Reacher’s moral code, with his dedication to justice, and to “being there” for those in need of help, is similar to that of the Samurai.
  • Cobie Smulders visited with female soldiers as part of her preparation for the role of Major Susan Turner, and their experiences helped inform her presentation of a woman soldier on screen.
  • Danika Yarosh told interviewers that Tom Cruise was always willing to help her learn as much as she could about filming, including camera angles, lighting, and other details.

Pic Spam! Here’s a bunch of pics we liked!

Getting the drop on the bad guys!
Getting the drop on the bad guys MORE!
You might want to tell her what she wants to know…
Is this feelings?
That smile!

Watchability level: HIGH!
Buttered Popcorn recommends that you watch this movie! It’s fun, it’s full of action and ass-kicking, it’s got just a touch of tenderness (just enough to give it the right flavor when Reacher starts shredding the bad guys).  And you get to see Tom Cruise AND Cobie Smulders make these great “I will murder you” faces (sometimes to each other).

Re-watchability level: MEDIUM
There are a few different reveals in this movie, but we’re fairly certain who our enemies are right from the beginning. Still, there are several moments where, on re-watching, you realize, “Heeeeeeeey! He WAS in on it from the start!” And watching this one again and again is like getting off a rollercoaster and running back to the line to start again. The humor between the characters, the fights, that viscerally satisfying moment where Reacher gets the bad guy – it’s SO great, watching again is just damn good fun!

Final Verdict: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is fun and exciting! Fun and excitement are good!
So!  Melt that butter, pop that popcorn, and prepare to have yourself a fun time!

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