Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

jack-reacher-never-go-back-people

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a conflicted sequel. Presenting fans with more of the same yet also somehow less, the film breaks the cardinal rule of movies by telling instead of showing and leaves viewers drowning in a sea of lengthy exposition and muted, low-key action sequences.

Tom Cruise again stars as Jack Reacher, a former Army policeman turned modern-day road warrior who is the hero of more than two dozen novels by Lee Child. Traveling 'round the country with his trusty travel toothbrush, he rights wrongs and settles scores according to his own complicated set of morals and ethics. This go-round finds Reacher trying to connect with the current commanding officer of his former unit, Major Susan Turner, played by nerd favorite Cobie Smulders. When he makes a personal appearance in Washington to find her, he discovers she's been imprisoned for a crime she didn't commit. Of course, it's a crime he's quickly implicated in as well, and off we go.

The film's problems arise early. Cruise is in his 50's now, and it's starting to show. Instead of opening with a big fight scene, we just see the aftermath, a trick the film pulls several times. It seems ridiculous, as a fan of the Reacher series, to miss out on the most appealing aspect of seeing the character translated to screen; the brutal impact of his fights, with guns and fists alike. To simply see the clean-up crew coming in after is criminal.

Jack Reacher: NGB also seems to follow the recent curious trend of giving fans of a long-living series the exact opposite of what they want, by taking out the fight scenes and action set pieces and instead introducing Reacher's possible long-lost daughter. Killing (and not in a good way) every scene she's in, the sullen-faced teenager cries, argues, and pouts her way through the movie, presenting Reacher simultaneously with something to fight for and fight against until the final scene.

Speaking of acting choices, Tom Cruise has exactly one facial expression throughout, and it involves clenching his jaw and staring intensely. I'm not sure whatever happened to the actor we saw in Collateral and Magnolia, but he's turned into this bland, old man action star and it's getting to the point I sort of wish he would stop.

I will give the movie this: the plot, at the very least, makes sense. Involving private contractors and shadowy overseas operations, it's a simple plan that works well, until it doesn't. Reacher's still the man the bad guys never expect, but the bad guys themselves are, well, pretty bland as well. Cardboard cutouts of evil, they walk, talk and dress like the bad guys nine-year-olds make up in the backyard. Hell, the main henchmen who chases Reacher the whole movie doesn't even get a name.

And chase him he does, as the whole movie is essentially a series of shots of Cruise and Co. running. And running. And jumping. And falling. Featuring exactly one scene of Reacher with a gun in his hand, and two scenes of him punching someone, this movie is not what I ever expected to see from a Jack Reacher film. When it was over, I REALLY thought the budget had been severely reduced for this one as a way to try and increase profits, but it turns out the budget for this sequel is nearly the same as that of the first film. I have no idea where the money went, but it didn't show up on screen.

As a long-time fan of Lee Child and the entire Reacher series, I'm perplexed by the fact that they can't seem to get this guy right on-screen. I hope the franchise gets a reboot after this one, I really do. It's so simple - Jack Reacher is a massive, six-foot-three linebacker of a man, who's always overlooked as a dumb giant but has the grace of a dancer and the brains of a genius detective. When the brains don't work, the fists always do. Brutally, efficiently, and with a minimum of time and effort. The character is flawed and compelling and, frankly, not represented well by Tom Cruise doing his best jaw-clenching anger face. It might be Tom’s fault overall; he's produced both films as well as starred in them. Get it together, folks, and you'd have a genuine hit on your hands. Instead we get a over-long mess of chase scenes and exposition that I would advise you to catch on Netflix in a few months, instead of giving Paramount or Cruise your money and encouraging them to make more of this bland, boring dreck. Go ruin some other franchise's character, Tom Cruise, and leave Jack Reacher in peace.

[easyreview title= "Review of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" cat1title="Jack's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="1.5" overall= false]

Review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

mission-impossible-rogue-nation-final-trailer-1107129-TwoByOne Hello, Agent.

We are currently living in a new age of action/adventure films. James Bond, Fast and Furious and many comic book movies have reached a new level. However there is one series spanning just short of two decades that has proven to be more and more entertaining with each new release. This series stars one of Hollywood's biggest names. An actor whose career has had many ups and downs yet continues to push the envelope by performing his own stunts and learning new tactics for this very series.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch the latest and great chapter of the Mission Impossible series. You must go to the theater and see amazing action pieces, creative cinematography, smart dialogue and many twists and turns that will keep you guessing and manage to still surprise you.

Now I know I tend to be rather extreme with my opinions on films. I either bash the hell out of it or praise the hell out of it. That's not my fault, I swear! It's the movies that are given to me! Now with Mission Impossible it won't be much different... and I'm not going to bash it at all!

This is the fifth entry in the franchise. 19 years of these films, guys. Last time we got Ghost Protocol which brought in some new actors like Paula Patton and Simon Pegg. It was fun, exciting and the major action piece, Tom Cruise hanging from the tallest building in the world, was breathtaking when you realize it's filmed on location with no stunt men. It was a great ride that had its faults yet still entertained. As far as I'm concerned Rogue Nation has no faults. The script is very well polished and we get multiple large action pieces. hell, the one they've been advertising is simply the opening of the movie. Ya know, where Tom Cruise hangs onto the outside of a plane during take off FOR REAL. yeah, that's nothing compared to later scenes. Mostly a car/motorcycle chase and an under water sequence that has set a new bar for underwater sequences.

Let's get to the plot before we explore those action bits. From the start we see the IMF (Impossible Mission Force... I know, just roll with it, ok?) in action. Ethan Hunt (Cruise), Luther Stickell (Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Pegg) working a mission with there usual flair and banter. It's fun and funny and gets you into the mood for the rest of this film. However the next scene involves William Brandt of the IMF (Jeremy Renner of Avengers fame) in a congressional hearing where Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) the head of the CIA is trying to get the IMF shut down. It works and they are folded into the CIA with Hunley now out to bring Hunt back in. However Hunt is busy. He's tracking his nemesis, an organization known only as The Syndicate. Few believe it's real however Hunt is trying to prove it to everyone.

The rest of the film hinges on Hunt's... hunt and the CIA hunting Hunt. So far there are a lot of dudes in this film so where are the women? Well we get only one main female character. Kinda stinks BUT WAIT! Ilsa Faust is her name played by the beautiful (hey, I'm a dude with eyes and I have to say this woman is gorgeous) played by Rebecca Ferguson. She's a spy much like Hunt and is therefore very skilled and badass. Never is she the damsel in distress. When she's in trouble she makes her own way out. Her presence is also 100% integral to the plot. Without her this movie wouldn't happen. Though it's still kinda ridiculous that she's the only woman...

Ok, the action. I'm only going to ding into one scene because I think it really shows Christopher McQuarrie's caliber as a director. There's an underwater scene which I won't spoil for you so no worries. Cruise taught himself how to hold his breath for six minutes in order to film this scene. That dude is 54 years old and is making all of us look bad with his Scientologist magic. McQuarrie takes advantage of this and films the most beautiful underwater action scene outside of Top Secret (hard to top an underwater western bar fight). In the constantly swirling water the camera is not in a fixed position, it moves and swirls along with the action and the actor. It's a very unique take on keeping us in the action and doesn't resort to shaky cam nonsense. It's easily my favorite scene in the movie and my favorite action scene all summer.

Speaking of the summer this is the best action film this year. I can't imagine anything beating it. I was entertained and engrossed throughout the entire thing. The acting was just right and the direction was outstanding. Even little touches during the famed motorcycle sequence help to extend the experience. Now I'm still bothered that there's only one female role in the movie. That's not something that makes any sense in this day and age. However even though I take major issue with that it doesn't change the fact that the film itself was beyond outstanding and shouldn't have any effect of critique of what we were presented with.

Go see this film, I can not recommend it enough. This review will self destruct with five stars.

[easyreview title= "Review of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" cat1title="Nerdpocalypse Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="5.0" overall= false]

Review: Edge of Tomorrow

edgeoftomorrow Another Sci-Fi wanna be blockbuster starring Tom Cruise this year? I guess he’s not gonna stop until he gets it right. Well good news, everyone! This movie is it! A Tom Cruise vehicle that finally delivers an interesting story, a great premise, excellent visuals and good characters. It’s probably the least Cruise-y he’s been since Tropic Thunder. His shirt stayed on, people! More importantly I enjoyed the hell out of this film from start to finish. In the not so distant future asteroids are hitting the earth. These rocks are filled with alien creatures that quickly begin to crush populations, slowly but surely taking over our planet. Due to their ability to adapt to any tactic or armament thrown at them they are soon called Mimics. Mankind needs an army to fight them and to recruit that army we need propaganda. Officer Cage is the man in charge of the fims being made to recruit soldiers. Only now he’s being ordered to the front line to shoot first hand footage. Having never been in combat he resists and attempts to blackmail the General in charge. Well this doesn’t work out in his favor as the General is now pissed. Cage is quickly knocked out and wakes up exactly as you’ve seen him in the trailers, confused and in handcuffs on a military base where he’s been set up and will shortly be going to the front lines as a private, not an officer. Eventually Cage does see combat in a suit of armor he has no idea how to control. I don’t want to spoil anything but just know that he dies in a very interesting way. This causes him to wake up the previous day on the base in handcuffs. Again.

This is our premise. We have a weasely former officer stuck in the same day over and over. No one wants to believe him as he keeps going to this beach and dying over and over… until he shows off a bit of his future knowledge to Rita (Emily Blunt), the Full Metal Bitch… but don’t call her that to her face. She’ll make you regret it. However she sees what he can do and knows what has happened. Now he has an ally is this madness.

I won’t spoil anything but I will say that this event is only happening to him while still having someone believe him is a neat dynamic. This isn’t Groundhog Day where the day repeats until he gets it right for no known reason. There are defined rules and to restart the day Cage must die every time.

I’ll stop there as the story is fun to watch unfold. The pacing of the story is great as well. Just when it’s about to get tedious we get great action breaks to keep the flow going. And boy, the fight scenes are so much fun due to the cool mech armor and the scary freaky design of the mimics. You barely get a look at them in the trailer but mostly because they are that damn fast. When you see them really in action it is flat out scary. The faces they have never move but that works to make them just that much scarier. They are super lethal so when we see Cage or Rita take them down it’s that much cooler. Especially when she’s using that giant Final Fantasy Buster Sword of hers.

The acting is good as well. Mostly I just love Cruise because he’s not some super badass like he is in most films. You can actually start to see his age and it works to keep him feeling like a real person stuck in a horrific situation. Emily Blunt was also a joy to watch if for no reason other than having such a strong female presence, even stronger than the lead. There was never any doubt who was in charge from beginning to end.

And that ending… I’ll just say you never truly know what is going to happen at that point. That level of tension was a blast.

This is the kind of movie we’ve needed. A super solid sci-fi action piece that isn’t a sequel or a remake or a comic book movie. Sure it’s based on a book but not one that people are overly familiar with. It’s fun and scary and intriguing. Bottom line is I have zero complaints about this movie. It’s not the most amazing thing ever but it was really great all the way through. With that in mind I would like to point out that I grade films on what they present, not in comparison to other films. So yeah… gotta hand over the five stars to this one. I can’t wait to see it again and I will buy the blu-ray as soon as I can get my hands on it.

[easyreview title= "Review of Edge of Tomorrow" cat1title="Rob's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="5.0" overall= false]

Review: Oblivion

Oblivion Directed by Joseph Kosinski and starring Tom Cruise, Oblivion is the first major movie this season. Nothing like the pure star power of Tom Cruise to kick off the spring/summer movie season. Oblivion tells the story of Jack Harper, a drone service tech on the ravaged planet Earth. How it gets ravaged and why are revealed in standard fashion within the first 10 minutes. Jack Harper's world will soon be turned up side down (Cue menacing music). My normal standard practice is to tell you the general plot here and get you interested and possibly invested in a movie that you may or may not have seen yet; change of plans. This movie is a waste of time. 124 minutes that you will never get back. I have seen my fair share of sci-fi movies and I would say its probably my favorite genre. That being said, Oblivion just takes every sci-fi cliche and crams it all together. Did you like 2001? Well we got ya covered. Did you like Moon? Gotcha there too. Mind wipe, cloning, and highly evolved computer like entities are fully featured in Oblivion. I felt like I was just along for the dumbest ride in the amusement park. Jumbled nonsense with a beautiful coating on it. Half way through the movie I remembered something...this is the guy who directed Tron: Legacy! At which point I began to enjoy it more, just a little. I realized that it was just going to be as empty headed and try and wow the viewers with visuals. For 124 minutes I felt like Joseph Kosinski and Tom Cruise were just shaking a big lollipop in front of my easily impressed 10 year old face. Unfortunately for them I am no longer 10 years old. I haven't walked out of a movie in a long time, but I really considered it. The character of Jake Harper was just Tom Cruise in Future Top Gun, and not in a good way. He was reckless for no reason. We are suppose to empathize with his situation, but you can't. Oh poor Tom Cruise has to live in an awesome safe house with a beautiful woman he has sex with in a POOL! A life only reserved for rappers and despots. All he has to do is fix drones when he isn't living it up. When he can, he likes to go live the simpler life in a cabin he built while listening to Led Zeppelin. Nothing about his life made me connect with him. I was watching Tom Cruise's awesome life not Jack Harper's. So the entire build up to tragedy was worthless. When Harper is finally introduced to the movie's conflict you just don't have the strength to care, at least I didn't. The big twist in the plot you could see from Jack Harper's sweet cloud house a 100 miles away. Nothing surprising at all.

If you liked Tron: Legacy then you will love Oblivion. Another dunderheaded approach to sci-fi. Why blaze new ground when you can just pretend to do a homage, but just rip off everything others have done but worse. As I said previously the movie looks incredible. The few action sequences that there were really stood out. The future helicopter/jet that Harper flew looked amazing in action. There is one sequence where he is being chased and the twists and turns in that scenario were damn near flawless. If the movie had more of that I would have been further on board but sadly it didn't. All in all, the movie was just boring and derivative...very derivative. At one point I was just guessing the next lines to come out of the characters mouths. This was not a difficult game. If you like the elements of movies like 2001 and Moon just watch them again and save your money.

[easyreview title= "Review of Oblivion" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="1.5" overall= false]