I was so caught up on creating new tests for my classes that I had time to see Jack Reacher: Never Go Back without the slightest shred of remorse. Although Tom Cruise is almost the antithesis of the character described by Lee Child in the numerous novels about the former military policeman who wanders across America letting trouble find him, he makes his version of the character believable.
This film is better than the first one, possibly because it is based on only one novel rather the two or three which were fused into a single script. The subtitle of the film refers to Cruise’s efforts to help another member of the Military Police who has just been arrested for enough espionage and treason to make Benedict Arnold, Aldrich Ames. Alger Hiss, and Edward Snow seem purer than the driven snow.
I said that Reacher is trying to help a friend, but he has met the female officer in question only through telephone conversations; when they finally meet, they immediately despise each other. Reacher makes it very clear that working with someone is difficult; the irony of that is that Cruise plays an effective team leader in his Mission Impossible series. It will be interesting to see if some of the possible plot threads lead into the third film.
A side note: Another famous loner, John D. McDonald’s wildly popular Travis McGee, never succeeded in films. Only one film was ever produced, 1970’s Darker than Amber. Rod Taylor was adequate, but the film bombed. I have never seen the Sam Elliot television version of The Empty Copper Sea. A new film was suspended last year when Christian Bale was injured. If ever a character needed filming, it is McGee. MacDonald was one of the first American writers to use environmental quality as a motif in his novels and is still worth reading.