The Book is Always Better – Jack Reacher: Never Go Back part 2


Erik Calderon, Staff Writer

Two police officers pull into the parking lot of a small diner.  7 men are sprawled out in the parking lot, bloodied and beat up.  A bystander points towards the diner, “He’s in there, he’s the one that did it.”  Jack Reacher is sitting at the counter drinking a cup of coffee.   The police officers enter and proceed to arrest him for assault and battery.  “Two things are going to happen within the next 90 seconds,” Reacher says as they handcuff him.  “First that payphone is going to ring, and second I’m going to be putting these handcuffs on you.”  The phone surprises the officers with a ring.  It rings and rings.  Finally, after a minute, the officer reluctantly decides to answer the call.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, the film by Edward Zwick, starring Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders and Aldis Hodge just released last week.  The film, budgeted at $68 million, was shot in Louisiana on 35mm film, and is 1 hour and 58 minutes long.  The film is about Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) and his investigation into the wrongful charges of bribery against Major Turner (Cobie Smulders).  This is part 2 of my review on Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.  Part 1 reviewed the book, this part reviews the film.

And yes, the book is always better.

The film does a nice job of following the book, but does leave out a lot of the character development.  We are introduced the Jack Reacher at the start of the film as an investigator that takes down a slave trade operation in a small town run by the local Sheriff.  Moving around a lot, solving crimes, he finally arrives at his old headquarters in Washington, D.C. to take out the new commander in chief, Major Turner, on a date for dinner.  He walks into her office to discover that  Col. Morgan (Holt McCallany) has taken over her command.  Col. Morgan explains to Reacher that Major Turner has been arrested and relieved of her duties.  Reacher is shocked and can’t understand how this could be true.  He begins his investigation by breaking her out of jail and getting to the bottom of things.

The opening scene in the film is nowhere in the book.  Although it was very well done and puts you on the edge of your seat, and does a wonderful job introducing Jack Reacher to us, it’s not in the book.  The first chapter in the book introduces us to the title, Never Go Back; whereas the film leaves that out completely.  Of course, Edward Zwick only has 1 hour and 58 minutes to tell us the story and he has to choose his scenes to build up the character wisely.  He does an amazing job, and fills us with our needed fix of action.  The film does fail to address several of the subplots that are laid out in the book, and of course having read the book, I understood the characters and their motivations much better; everything made more sense.  A huge difference between the book and the film is the fact that in the book, Jack Reacher doesn’t know Major Turner and in the film, he’s been working with her for a long time, apprehending criminals.  In the book we see Jack Reacher as a loner, working by himself, in the film we see him as a team player.  And the biggest difference between the two is the relationship with his “daughter.”  I’ll have to leave that explanation out because in both the book and the film, it is a major part of the ending.

I really enjoyed the film, and the book.  I enjoyed seeing the creative differences between Edward Zwick and Lee Childs.  By the way, the author Lee Childs is also in the film.  He plays an airport security officer.  I think I’m seeing a trend here,  as we always see Stan Lee in his films.  This is definitely a nice film to watch in the theater.   A very nice crime, action adventure film  with a happy ending.

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