Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – Film review

When Tom Cruise adapted the thriller One Shot in 2012 as the film Jack Reacher, not everybody had heard of Lee Child’s lone gun for hire. 
Four years on and it’s a different story. Reacher is now an established hero, and as fans of the first film will know, he’s not a man to take any prisoners. Tom might not be the perfect Reacher, coming in the way under the novel character’s height, but he has an intensity that makes the films work.

Re-teaming with The Last Samurai director Ed Zwick, Cruise once more wisely teams up with a young, attractive heroine, in this case Cobie Smulders. Obviously as Cruise is now in his 50s, he cleverly lets younger, intelligent actresses do a lot of the hard work and physical stunts. It’s what helped make the last Mission Impossible film one of the most enjoyable so far, and Smulders does a terrific job here.

When her character is arrested, Reacher smells a rat, breaks her out of military prison, and they go on the run. Thrown into the mix is Danika Yarosh as a blonde teenage girl who Jack may or may not have family connections with.

After a terrific opening in which it looks like Reacher is going to be arrested in a diner having taken down several men in a fist fight, he sets out his stall for newcomers by bringing corrupt policeman to justice.

Once he and Smulders go on the run, the scene is set for much of the rest of the film. A little exposition, a lot of running, a fight, more exposition, and then a lot more running.

Child’s coffee-guzzling hero is a throwback to the 1970s, when men were men and fist fights were the norm without a lot of character development. Having explored that aspect of Reacher’s character in the 2012 original, here we get a proto-family as our hero gets a girlfriend of sorts and the adoptive daughter character spend a lot of time pinching money, busting heads, and trying to find enough essential information to get them to the next scene.

Lee Child and I. Harrogate, 2015

Aside from Cruise and Smulders, Zwick wisely casts a bunch of relative unknowns. All great vehicles go from a to b with maximum effiency with a minimum of baggage, and this movie is no exception.

Will it change your life? Definitely not, but if you’re in the mood to get away from your troubles for a couple of hours, then it does the job perfectly.


The Man With Lee Child in His Eyes – Exclusive Interview by Roger Crow (Part Two)

What is it about Harrogate that is so appealing for a crime writers’ festival?

“Well, you know it is a festival that is organised in a particular way. I don’t know whether they did it by accident or by design, but it’s a very relaxing festival.
“I’ve been to most of the festivals in the world and typically what you have there is multiple ‘tracks going on at any one time. Which means there can be four or five or even six attractions in any hour, which really causes anxiety frankly in the attendees, because typically a person will have always two, maybe three things that they want to see, and I have to choose, which is a stressful thing. So here there’s only one thing happening at a time and there’s a little break before the next thing, and so there is no stress, no anxiety. I think therefore the attendees have a fun weekend.”

I’ve heard rumours of another Jack Reacher film?

“Yeah, that’s supposed to be happening this autumn. That’s supposed to be shooting in New Orleans in the middle of October, so we’ll see. I haven’t really heard anything in the last week or two, but we’ll see whether that goes on or not.”

I was quite impressed with your acting skills, handing over the baton to Tom.
“Yeah, where was the Oscar nomination?”

Indeed, I thought you were robbed to be honest

“Yeah, I’m gonna do another one I think. To keep it fun for me I’m gonna do one of those cameos in every movie like Alfred Hitchcock did just for the fun of it. The skill in that is picking the right scene because… typically what happens is they do that just to be nice to the book author, and then they cut the scene, so you end up on the cutting room floor and not be in the movie, so you gotta pick a scene that they can’t cut. So I will have to look at the script and pick my moment.”

Ben Elton had some good advice when he was working on Kenneth Branagh’s film version of Much Ado About Nothing. “Always stick close to the leading man”.

“Exactly. And make sure that the leading man has some crucial dialogue at that moment, so that the movie wouldn’t make much sense without him.”


The Man With Lee Child in His Eyes – an Exclusive Interview by Roger Crow (Part one)

The last time I chatted to Lee Child, one of the world’s most successful crime fiction authors, I was so inspired after that a few minutes on the phone, I wrote half a novel. 
Within a couple of minutes of arriving at Harrogate’s Crime Fiction Festival, I seized the chance to grill him in person about his new Jack Reacher book, and the pending Tom Cruise sequel. 

“Where’s the other half?” He asks me when I tell him about my unfinished masterpiece.

“I’m hoping this second chat will give me enough inspiration to finish the job,” I tell him.

He smiles, and we sit down in the library at The Old Swan hotel in Harrogate, England.

Lee is in town with a few days to kill. Actually he is here as part of The Old Peculier Crime Writers’ Festival, an annual event which has attracted some of the biggest names in the literary industry.

Tell us about your next novel

“Yeah, the next one is released in September. It’s called Make Me. (Jack) Reacher’s back in his natural habitat. The undiscovered backroads of America. Last year’s book, Personal, which took him to Paris and London and so on, so this time I thought I’ll have him back in the dusty Mid West. 

This time he’s in… The state is not really named but really it’s Kansas; hundreds of square miles of wheat fields, a strange little town with a rail road stop and something bad going on there that he gets involved in.” 

You don’t go back and edit your work. Is that through sheer confidence as you’ve written so many of these books now?
“Yeah, well it’s not exactly confidence. It’s sort of the theory of storytelling. To me this is… In one half of my mind I know this is a made up, but on the other hand I imagine this is really happening and so you can’t go back and change it. If this is what has happened has happened, so it would be dishonest to go back and alter it. So in the morning what I do is check what I wrote yesterday and make sure it makes sense; make sure it’s smooth, and then I move on and I don’t go back and revisit it ever, no.”