In the majority of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, our hero is not very complicated, traveling unencumbered with only the clothes on his back and a source of income he draws from to buy a toothbrush and the occasional meal. But in the second Tom Cruise-led story cast onto the big screen, we see Reacher’s complexity thanks to the inclusion of two women, and the net result is a significantly entertaining action flick.
The opening vignette where Reacher (Cruise) unravels a human trafficking scheme may be the film’s best until the battle royale, but before long, he’s tracking down a woman he’s worked with via phone, Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), but whom he’s never met. He discovers that she’s been accused of espionage, but she rebuffs his help; he subsequently interjects himself into the case that involves creepy Robert Knoepper’s General James Harkness. And then he finds out that he might be fifteen-year-old Samantha Dayton’s (Danika Yarish) father.
Edward Zwick directs here, and his background with Cruise (The Last Samurai) allows them to make this a deeper film than simple action. [Yes, there are funny, poignant moments, too!] For those who’ve read the books or simply seen the first film, it’s been so obvious that Reacher is unencumbered – and now he’s put him in a situation where there are two ‘innocents’ he cares for, two people who are counting on him. And that makes Reacher’s circle incredibly hard to keep protected. Thankfully, there’s Aldis Hodge’s Captain Anthony Espin, who generally wants to do the right thing, but who has the wrong people directing his decisions, and Turner can handle herself.
This is an exciting, sometimes nail-biting, flick, but the humanity of Reacher’s struggle with whether he is Dayton’s father or not is the part that gives it heart and power. How do we take responsibility for our children and our community? How can we grow into who we’re supposed to be if we’ve never prepared for it? How do we defend the innocents in our lives through our words and actions? We don’t know what the answer is for Reacher as he struggles through the movie but we know that he must find a way forward to fulfill his duty.
Special features here include a look at Reacher returning to the big screen, a “Relentless” look at their New Orleans shoot, the training to portray combat in “Take Your Revenge First” and “No Quarter Given,” and commentary by Cruise and photographer David James.