Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

January 16, 2017 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but the man has managed to not only survive, but thrive, in an industry that is known for a short shelf life. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 35 years since he first graced the screen as Capt. Shawn in Taps (waaaay back in 1981). And while he found success in early films like Risky Business and All the Right Moves, it wasn’t until 1986’s Top Gun that he found worldwide fame and notoriety. And, believe it or not, he’s remained atop Hollywood ever since. I’d written in my recent review of Jerry Maguire how, in the early to mid-90’s, he had 5 films cross the $100 million mark. That was impressive then and I’d say it’s a feat that he (or anyone else) will ever duplicate. And looking at the new millennium, it’s been somewhat kind to Cruise. He’s taken the Mission: Impossible franchise to new highs and teamed with Steven Spielberg on a few films, but take those away and there’s not a lot. Granted, his small part as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder was memorable, but in an effort to create a new franchise we’re left with Cruise as…Jack Reacher. The (anti) hero is a product of Lee Child’s novels and the first installment pitted Cruise with director Christopher McQuarrie. 2012’s self-titled film did the trick and the future looked bright, but that might change once the ending credits of Never Go Back have been, pardon the pun, reached.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) has been working with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), from his old military base, on cases. He eventually heads to Washington, D.C. to meet up with her only to find that she’s been relieved of duty and is now under investigation for espionage. Reacher, though an entertaining (and very unbelievable) scene, manages to break her out of the military prison and the two hit the road. To complicate things further, it appears that Reacher may also have a daughter Samantha (Danika Yarosh) that he was not aware of and foes who want to hurt both Turner and Samantha. Of course we have a corrupt General (Holt McCallany) who has hired a hitman (Patrick Heusinger) which sets the stage for many well-choreographed fight scenes and, yes, plenty of running by Cruise and Smulders. Is Reacher the girl’s father? Will he end up in prison (or dead) or will he manage to kill the bad guy, clear Turner’s name and perhaps walk off into the sunset with Samantha in hand?

Do we even care?

There’s technically nothing “wrong” with it (Jack Reacher) aside from that fact that it’s just not that interesting.

The problem with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back isn’t that it’s a bad movie. Truthfully, it isn’t. There’s technically nothing “wrong” with it aside from that fact that it’s just not that interesting.  With the 2012 original, director Christopher McQuarrie managed to craft an interesting film that had the right mix of action and drama all the while giving Cruise the stage to do what he does best: exude his natural charisma and charm. Audiences have loved that for three decades. This one feels like an episode of Law and Order. To her credit, Smulders (best-known for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) does hold her own with the leading man. The two even did all of their own stunts. Impressive. But it’s feels like a dozen plots were thrown in a blender and this movie is the result. Everything is predictable, even leading to the showdown in New Orleans. Given that this is a “Tom Cruise” film, it barely made back its budget, but I honestly don’t know if we’ll see another Jack Reacher film. If you’re really desperate for a Cruise fix, watch Edge of Tomorrow or any of the last two Mission: Impossible films. This one should be put out to pasture.

Video: How’s it look?

Despite what we see on screen, what we see on screen does look good. Very good. Paramount isn’t cranking out the 4K titles at the rate some other studios are, but Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is one of them. The 2.39:1 HEVC encode epitomizes everything that we’ve come to expect from an Ultra HD title. Blacks are solid, the HDR looks magnificent and all the other associated traits are present. Truthfully, the image is so clear that it even makes Tom Cruise look, sorry to say, old in a few scenes. Say it isn’t so! There’s also a Blu-ray included in the set and after some comparisons, there’s little difference between the two (putting aside the HDR). I can’t see viewers having a problem with the way this looks.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Either way you go, Blu-ray or Ultra HD, you’ll find a very competent Dolby Atmos sound mix. I was actually very impressed with the way this sounded. There were several action scenes, but nothing marquee like buildings blowing up, high speed car chases or the like. Rather we’ll be treated to a series of gun shots (all of which miss our hero, of course) whizzing by and creating atmosphere that puts us smack dab in the middle of things. And that’s the point. Vocals are pure and crisp, Cruise’s deep voice seems to be custom fit for narration, but I had no problems here. The front stage picks up any and all slack that the surrounds don’t cover. Truthfully, there’s nothing wrong here either.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The Blu-ray has all of the supplements, both the DVD (included in the Blu-ray set) and Ultra HD are void of any extras.

  • Reacher Returns – If you want a crash course in Jack Reacher, this is where to go. Cruise’s interview gives us the details on why this book was selected, why the director was chosen (he directed Cruise in 2003’s The Last Samurai) and more. Running at 11 minutes, it’s not one that lasts forever, but goes give us the nuts and bolts of this movie and everything associated with it.
  • An Unexpected Family – The family atmosphere is explored in a bit more depth with Samantha and Maj. Turner as surrogate daughter and wife respectively.
  • Relentless: On Location in Louisiana – The most robust feature is this one that details the various shooting locales used in the film as well as the climactic scene in New Orleans. We do see a very hard-working Cruise on the set and it’s clear that, regardless of what we might think about the film, he’s a consummate professional.
  • Take Your Revenge First: Lethal Combat – I’d mentioned that both Cruise and Smulders both did their own stunts, some of the physical preparations for the role and how some of the fight scenes were choreographed are included.
  • No Quarter Given: Rooftop Battle – Step aside Vertigo – there’s a new rooftop battle in town! OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. We’re treated to a look at the ending scene and some of the pratfalls included.
  • Reacher in Focus: With Tom Cruise and Photographer David James – Something you don’t realize is that still photography is a thing. It’s a big thing. I’d seen this explored in a Blu-ray feature somewhere else (and I can’t, for the life of me, remember which film it was for) but this takes a look at Cruise and his relationship with photographer David James. I found this to be the most interesting segment on on the disc.

The Bottom Line

As of this writing there are 21 Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. I rather enjoyed the first Jack Reacher movie (based off the 9th novel “One Shot”), but this one just didn’t do it for me. I have no idea if we’ll see another one, though word has it that if there is it’ll be “Bad Luck and Trouble” as it’s an ensemble piece. Nevertheless, though the technical specs are above par, the actual film itself is rather bland. Die hard Cruise fans or fans of the novels might want to check it out.

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