torsdag 27 oktober 2016


The adventures of this vertically-challenged version of  ex military cop, current drifter Jack Reacher continues. This time it is the 20th Book in the series that is being adapted. Last movie simply named Jack Reacher was adapted from One Shot, which I believe was the 9th in the series. This is what I like about these type of episodic pulp heroes. You can basically sink your teeth into which one you want to as prior knowledge is not needed. That is not to say that there isn´t much of a mythology. Quite the contrary, we get plenty of backstory from Reachers days as a Military Police officer. Some books are dedicated entirely to a specific episode from his past. In Never go back, we learn some of his past, but it  sticks to modern day throughout the book,  which is the basic template for the franchise.

Some of the more distinguishing features of the appeal of this character might be worth mentioning. Reacher lives a basically a life as a bum/drifter/nomad,  He wishes not be bound by materialism or steady relationships, but lives instead as a drifter going from place to place and gets into situations. A variant of the Western hero archetype, who belongs nowhere.

It also gives him a very specific idiosyncrasis to him. and a very specific thought pattern to his lifestyle.  His entire life is based around moving on, leaving everything behind. He never bother to wash his clothes, he purchases new ones instead from second hand stores as he has no house he live sin, therefore no wahsing machines( he could use a laundromat, but that mean he need to wander around with spare clothes, which he does not like). All he has is a toothbrush. In one novel , some bad guy who had broken into his motel room  stepped on his toothbrush, his only belonging, and Reacher got real upset about it. Pretty funny. Noone else but Reacher would be upset over the loss of  a toothbrush, which further illustrates his mannorisms. A lot of people are sometimes weirded out by him, and sometimes it becomes humorous as they try to make sense of his lifestyle. Why deliberatly live as a hobo? Huh...?

I´m not quite sure how this kind of living would even be remotely possible in real life these days. Nomad life is actually frowned upon in our western society and  purchasing clothes all the time seems like a false economy in many ways. But Reacher might be a representative from a yearning to be free from all the stuff we allow ourselves to be tied up to (mortgages, loans, cars, houses etc) and in our imagination, for a few hundred pages, allow ourselves to participate in that type of journey. This is what I like about the book and the character. He never moans about his internal state, he actually is living the life as it should be. taking day by day as they come and enjoy life.  He can travel across the country just to see if a strange rumour is true to satisfy his curiosity ( usually his curiousity ends up ,curiously enough , in a shitstorm of troubles).

Minor details, like whenever he enters a diner in a book and discovers to his delight as a coffee addict that the diner has a bottomless cup police is a treat in every book. And when in one book he encounters a diner that has shitty service and no refills he gets bummed out. For me these smaller moments are great. Just sitting down and drinking coffee is a time to take a break and enjoy life. Maybe it is just me mellowing in my older days, but I like the diner scenes in the novels. It´s like Twin Peaks whenever Dale Cooper is having coffee; you enjoy it as a viewer just as much as he does.

The plot of Never Go Back is of that Reacher travels to his former military post in Virginia ; the 110th Military Police to meet Susan Turner, whom he only until this point  known through phone contact. Upon arrival he finds she has been releaved of command and arrested and as he further investigates Reacher unravels a conspiracy. He also finds he may have a fifteen year old daughter, Samantha,  he never knew about. Reacher is also framed for a murder and sees no other option to bust himself and Turner out of prison, find his presumed daughter who may now find herself in harms way as a target for the conspirators. So Reacher, Turner and Samantha  begins a quest to prove themselves innocent but also crack the conspiracy wide open.

Unlike previous installment, this is less procedural . The family dynamic between the three characters put the lone wolf Reacher in a position he is not used to be in which makes this one more emotional involving than Jack Reacher.

On the other hand, this feels a lot more audience friendly version of the  uncompromisingly detached character that Reacher is in the novels. But he has on occasion in the novels been put in situations in which he may had to reflect on his choice of lifestyle, so it makes sense both in terms of action film narrative and as a companion to the books.

The messy plot of the Lee Childs novel has been more streamlined and actually flows a lot better in my opinion, but some of the weirder stuff has been lost. Like a sequence in which Turner and Reacher randomly comes across a random clan of hillbillys. It  was the same kind of weirdness as the guy with a trunk full of rabbits in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. But there is little weirdness or anything quirky about it. It is mostly a solid thriller.  But the relationship between Reacher and his assumed daughter is more developed and engaging and way more thought out than in the book and the family dynamic is sometimes humorous.

Cruise has really grown into the role, (despite that he is quite a lot shorter than Reacher from the novels) and his aging face with more wrinkles and lines, that not only gives him more personality but as a result  make him seem more believable as a bad ass these days. I think I am convinced. I  fully approve of this version of Reacher.

Director Edward Zwick , unlike Christopher McQuarrie dirctor of Jack Reacher 1, adds little in terms of visual touches or anything memorable except for some cheesy black and white effects added for internal purposes. But this is also the director known for bland films and comfortable "couch dramas". More of a director of Oscar bait material than  of low brow genre films of which Jack Reacher most clearly is. But at least he never falls into the trap of  non-genre directors of shaking the camera around in the action set pieces. The fights are still as good as in the first film; swift and brutal in execution as they are in the novels, but also clear for the human eye to register and follow the movements. That is good news. I think it is in the drama scenes perhaps, his strengths lies , which slightly elevates this movir from most blockbusters. You like the characters. Zwick alse makes Reacher a bit more vulnerable, but not too much.

Oh, there are a couple of diner scenes as well. Good.

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