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Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Writer's Life 2/4 - Never Go Back

Last night I caught up to the latest Jack Reacher film, courtesy of Netflix. Never Go Back (2016), adapted from Lee Child's novel of the same name, is solid, nothing more. I was not bored at any point during the less than two-hour running time, but I was dismayed by a couple of plot machinations. The main problem with this sort of fare is that there is so much of it. The Bourne series immediately comes to mind. There are two main elements to the plot, a female officer framed for espionage, and a teenage girl who may be Reacher's daughter. I guessed the resolution of each correctly. Most of the action takes place in D.C. and Atlanta. The silver screen Reacher is made into a sort of super hero, able to dispatch four trained bad guys at a time - with relative ease. I've only read one of the books. I remember it as no-nonsense, tight storytelling. Of course, there are always problems in adapting a book to the screen. A lot of fans will be dissatisfied. The literary Reacher is six-five, Cruise is perhaps five-eight, probably shorter. That doesn't bother me as much as the one-on-four stuff. Despite all the shortcomings, I enjoyed Never Go Back. Edward Zwick and two others adapted the screenplay. Zwick was also at the helm. He has had a successful career, producing, writing and directing, but has never approached the heights of his greatest work, Glory (1989). The supporting cast was almost completely unfamiliar to me, despite extensive credits. Cobie Smulders plays the kick-ass Major. She starred in 208 episodes alone of How I Met Your Mother, which I've never seen. Young Danika Yarosh, still in her teens, plays the girl, and Patrick Heusinger the merciless, nameless hunter. I recognized only Robert Knepper, who is always first-rate as a sleezeball. His role was brief. The budget was $60 million, modest given that Cruise's salary may have been as much as a third of it. The film does not look at all low budget. It fell shy of breaking even in the states but reached handsome profitability overseas and through DVD sales and rental, so there will probably be a third installment. 49,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 6.1 of ten, which seems right. The fight scenes are intense and may upset the squeamish. Other than that, there isn't anything offensive about the content. The language is tame, especially by today's standards. Anyone who enjoys the visceral satisfaction of seeing slimes get their just desserts will not be too disappointed.

The sun was unblocked, taking the sting out of the cold, allowing a pleasant session of the floating book shop. My thanks to Monsey, who bought a pictorial on photo-grams and a book on handling grief. In the past seven months she has lost her mom, two aunts and a sister.
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