Film Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a sufficiently entertaining action thriller. Whilst the film distracts, there is little that is original.

Jack Reacher has been working with Major Susan Turner, from his old military base, on cases. When he goes to meet her in person, he is shocked to find her under investigation. Reacher must clear both her name and his…

Director and co-writer Edward Zwick has created an archetypal Tom Cruise action thriller with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. This film, however lacks the sprightliness of the recent Mission: Impossible films, or the tongue-in-cheek fun of Jack Reacher. Whilst it is never boring, the film does not distinguish itself either.

The narrative of Never Go Back focuses on framed military major and Reacher’s efforts to find who is behind corruption. It is a traditional government corruption plot; the hook here is figuring out who is responsible. As the film progresses, it turns out that the big villain is a red herring for less important but more deadly assassin. The little viewers see of the person responsible only depicts them as lacking in depth. Overall, the antagonists one dimensional. Furthermore, there is little to Susan’s character. She functions more as a sidekick to Reacher, and a plot device to engineer the set up. It is a relief that the romance angle is never fully explored, as it is not needed.

The character of Samantha adds a more interesting dynamic to film. She gives the protagonist a bit more depth. It becomes apparent that Reacher is a loner figure, although this never feels fully emphasised in this film or its predecessor. The action sequences are fine, although the film needed more exciting set pieces to make it memorable.

Tom Cruise appears distinctly older in this film. Given his role as producer, this seems a conscious decision. Although he is very physical in the fight sequences, the bruises last longer and he appears weary. It is one of the film’s few distinguishing angles. It will be interesting to see whether the actor plays out a career as the ageing action star.

Jack Reacher: Never Goes Back is standard action thriller fare. It is a shame that the film does not strive for some originality.

Film Review: Love and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs is an enjoyable comedy drama with two very attractive leads. The film retains a good balance between humour and emotion, which only strays too far one way at the end of the film.

Jamie is a charming ladies’ man hoping to become a success in the burgeoning pharmaceutical sales industry. He is instantly smitten by Maggie, a young artist living with Parkinson’s disease. Jamie must struggle with the stressful nature of his job while also pursuing Maggie, a free spirit who does not intend to get tied down…

One of the highlights of Love and Other Drugs is the way the two protagonists are developed. The opening scene works perfectly to succinctly compose an illustration of Jamie as an attractive and charismatic guy who can charm any woman. It is a great opening to both the character and the film. Maggie’s personality, on the other hand, evolves over the course of the film, revealing both her bluntness and her sensitivity at various intervals.

There is nothing groundbreaking about the story; the narrative turns in Love and Other Drugs are fairly predictable. The film’s strength lies in its ability to project believable and interesting characters. Aside from a few cheesy moments at the end of the film, the dialogue appears authentic, and is peppered with humour and affection.

Love and Other Drugs differentiates itself from other films in the same vein through its very particular setting. Taking place in the late 1990s, the film is set in a period where pharmaceuticals became big business with drugs being sold commercially. Love and Other Drugs casts a knowing eye over how the industry evolved in this era. This is accompanied by a great soundtrack featuring tracks from that period and prior to it.

Edward Zwick does a capable job of directing the film. Love and Other Drugs‘ emphasis is firmly on the couple, yet allows for some interesting side characters. Many of the scenes between Jamie and Maggie are beautifully crafted, employing adept camerawork and editing to create an intimacy between both the couple themselves, and the couple and the audience. The home video footage is particularly striking in the way it highlights the beauty of both actors.

Jake Gyllenhaal is convincing as Jamie, oozing the charm that is so central to this character. Anne Hathaway demonstrates an admirable range, showing that Rachel Getting Married was no fluke. The charismatic pair are bolstered by some great supporting players, including Hank Azaria and Josh Gad. Judy Greer is delightfully ditzy in a small role.

Love and Other Drugs effectively combines depth and lightness, delivering a believable rendering of a tumultuous relationship. For the most part, the film strikes the right balance, which makes the decline at the ending unfortunate but not unforgivable.