Directed by: Edward Zwick
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobe Smulders
I think part of the popularity of the Jack Reacher books has been the push back against technology. This hero is running the opposite direction of modern cinema heroes. Jack Reacher is the ultimate luddite, and in many ways, it’s truly refreshing. The first film was surprisingly enjoyable even if the marketing didn’t make it appear to be a good film. So, there was a palpable amount of anticipation for the next film, and there’s plenty of material out there for filmmakers to pull from, that’s for sure.
This particular book was an odd choice to adapt for fans. One of the things that made this book so great is how literally it tied to the previous book. In order to deal with that contiguous storyline from the books the filmmakers had to manufacture a situation for the opening of the film that did not exist in the books, and you can tell. The whole sequence feels tacked on.
This story finds Reacher (Tom cruise) trying to help out a sister in arms played by Cobe Smulders. The two end up on the run with a young girl that may be Reacher’s daughter. There’s a lot of good things happening here, most notably the garage band level of action. In other words, this isn’t a big CGI laden fake looking adventure. This is visceral action, and when it’s right, it’s entertaining. That said, CGI muzzle flare, really?
Sadly, the script is just flat. The whole thing feels paint by numbers and the drama doesn’t even really work. I’m not sure if the script was simply rushed or the directing is totally flat. The film is directed by Edward Zwick. Zwick honestly hasn’t directed many great films outside of the good but not great The Last Samurai so the failings of this film aren’t shocking. Never Go Back isn’t a disaster, but it’s forgettable which in many viewer’s eyes is worse.
This film was shot entirely on 35mm film and this gorgeous UHD transfer makes that abundantly clear. The sheen of film grain is visible and consistent throughout the film and the vibrant colors, extreme detail, and high contrast makes the accompanying good looking Blu-ray look weak. Facial details, clothing, and text on screen all look gorgeous and clean. The bright HDR makes the dimly lit scenes still beautiful. Since the overall cinematography for this film is a little flat this disc will not be a demo disc for your 4K TV but it’s no fault of the stellar transfer.
This film is presented in Dolby Atmos, and while it’s a clean sounding mix, it does not sound like Atmos. The majority of the film falls into the front of the soundstage with the rears getting minimal use. Sound fx do slide appropriately back and forth from left to right and the separation is clean and distortion free. Dialogue is always clean and easy to hear too.
Basically, if all feels and sounds well, basic.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The Ultra black case features basic floating head artwork. A steel book featuring the cover art from the book would be cool, just saying’. Along with the 4K disc there’s a digital copy and a Blu-ray.
There are six featurettes running just under an hour and a half. Overall, they all feel very much like digital marketing shorts. There are a few good stories and some fun behind the scenes footage throughout the featurettes though. The featurettes range from covering major set pieces to specific characters, typical stuff. Where’s the commentary and trailers?
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a basic actioner that deviates so far from the source material fans of the books may not even be interested. The visuals are really gorgeous though.