The second film to be based on the hugely popular books from Lee Child.
The first film proved Tom Cruise can be “Reacher” notwithstanding any height quibbles. He looked and acted the part and with $200M at the box office, a sequel was likely.
However, in the Superhero world of films nothing is guaranteed and it was widely reported obtaining budgets to make “small” thrillers is difficult, even with the world’s most bankable star on board.
This is one of the better stories in the series, as it expands our understanding of Reacher, who has never been the deepest of characters. Bash a few people, bed the beautiful single mum, grab toothbrush and move on.
This story takes Reacher back to his army days and entangles him with his old unit’s replacement CO “Turner” Cobie Smulders. Reacher arrives to take her to dinner, only to find her arrested for treason.
Lots of twists and turns are wheeled out and Smulder is given ample opportunity to demonstrate how equal she is, in every sense, which is good to see reflected in the movies.
Cruise gets to beat up the bad guys, which is what the fans want to see, with later action sequences swapping to a “movie friendly” New Orleans location. Bad guy duties are mostly carried out by the “Hunter” Patrick Heusinger, exuding menace and casual disregard for human life in equal measure.
The story benefits from the inclusion of “Sam” Danika Yarosh, who may or may not be Reacher’s daughter from a previous liaison some 15 years before. This provides Reacher with an opportunity to care a little bit more and with a dash of paternal anger, serves to increase the vulnerability of his character.
Finally a Achilles heel if you will, whereby caring makes him human and therefore mortal.
The author Lee Child cameos as in the previous film, see if you can spot him and director Edward Zwick keeps the whole enterprise humming along. I met Child on one of his book signing events, at the time he did not know who would play Reacher. Despite some early fan misgivings, he would be reasonably happy how this has all turned out.
It will be a shame if we lose the ability to see character driven action movies featuring real people, albeit augmented with choreographed fight scenes and stunt work. This movie is living proof this remains possible and financially viable, at least for now.
A solid action thriller that does exactly what it says on the tin.