Quick Hit: Completely missing some of the qualities that made the first one partially enjoyable, this film sinks to the predictable tunes of a sinking sequel.
I’ll start off by saying the best thing about this movie – Colbie Smulders is in it.
Yup, that’s about all I’ve got for this one. Oh wait – the opening Reacher scene in the diner was at least expectedly enjoyable.
Filled with a baffling side plot involving a daughter that is simply used as a reason for Jack and his new partner in crime to move around, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is not a good movie. The plot bounces around, never really explaining why people are bad besides saying – hey, people like money, so there must be bad people trying to make it. While this is indeed a true statement, it’s tough to base an entire movie around it, which is why I suppose they threw in the whole thing with Reacher’s daughter.
The acting is bad, even with Ms. Smulders and Tom Cruise consistently glaring at everything (seriously – each other, the “daughter”, the camera, the walls, the bad guys). The dialogue is worse, frequently falling into territory that is dangerously close to Troll 2. It’s almost as if this was a lazy sequel or something.
I guess I can find one more thing that I enjoyed about the movie – there is one scene in a kitchen that attempts to capture the spirit of the first movie’s often exciting action scenes (the other scenes in Never Go Back, including a rooftop fight and chase scene, never quite live up to the hand to hand action as well as other times). But, pay attention to the wording there, dear reader. It is an obvious attempt. Here, the punches seem like they’re being pulled at the last second, and any real danger with a meat pounder is consistently put out of mind by constantly allowing it to be smacked to the ground.
Ok, so I’ve avoided actually talking about it long enough – let’s talk about the daughter plot. I’m not spoiling anything, because I don’t actually know what is the case here. Reacher finds out he supposedly has a daughter. Now, based on what we know of him from the first movie, Reacher is a loner that has the investigational skills of a Sherlock Holmes who moves around a lot. This woman is claiming that she had his baby without him knowing. So now there is a teenage girl (they say her age, but based on the actress playing her, it seems indeterminately between 16 and 20) who is “just like Reacher” over and over in the movie. Never once does our incredible detective run any type of test that could actually identify that the girl is his daughter or not. Seems a bit out of character to me.
I didn’t like this one much, and I’m sorry for it, because I think that Jack Reacher is a character that probably has a decent literary following, and I always like to see those succeed. But I couldn’t get past the ineptitude of the plot in this one, and I’m giving it a “D-“.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Michael Caine turns in an insane performance in this lost forgotten movie of the 1980s.
Shannon and I are constantly aware that we need to be doing things to entertain you, loyal DFP readers. That’s why we continually do things like Pirates Week. As part of doing that, we tend to have to do some research into what films we are going to watch for the different events we’ve done, and often times it turns out to be harder than others. That’s because when you Google something like “Pirates movies”… you don’t always come up with movies that are about Pirates (and some of the ones that the search returns are not the type this site caters to).
Anyways, that was a long Segway into saying that in doing research for Pirates week, I read the following:
“Skeptical journalist Blair Maynard (Michael Caine) is assigned to explore the area known as the Bermuda Triangle, where thousands of boats have disappeared in a three year span. When he leaves the Florida coast with his adolescent son, Justin (Jeffrey Frank), their boat is shanghaied by a group of pirates led by the tyrannical John David Nau (David Warner). The pirates, who have lived undisturbed in the area for centuries, see father and son as new blood for their increasingly inbred clan”.
If you are anything like me, I get to that last sentence and go… huh. And so, that is how this forgotten film made its way onto Pirates Week.
The film itself is not nearly as good as my story about how I found the movie in the first place. Caine turns in a performance that is half Taken, and half repetitive storyline (so the Taken sequels). He isn’t the Michael Caine that I recognize, but he does sport some awesome hair. Essentially what this movie boils down to is this – Michael Caine gets turned into a sex-slave/dog type person because he killed a dude, and is somehow royalty because of his last name. His son gets brainwashed, and Jeffrey Frank is terrible. In fact, the acting between Caine and Frank is just atrocious in the first half of the film – it reminded me of Troll 2.
As the movie goes along, the movie becomes to feature escape after escape by Caine – only to be captured, stung by a jelly fish (I think that’s what it was supposed to be), have his boat sink, etc. etc. It’s kind of funny after a while, almost like the Murphy’s law of escapes – “if something bad can happen when Michael Caine is escaping inbred pirates, something bad will happen”. The one thing that I left the film actually enjoying the story was the pirates attacking. The gore was traditional eighties and I loved it. The pirates really sold the enjoyment of their marauding lifestyle too.
Overall, this movie is terrible. I wouldn’t advise it. I’m giving it a “D”.
Oh I forgot to mention – the pirates speak in pidgin English the whole time. It’s ridiculous and hard to understand.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: This fever dream of a Michael Bay film has tons of highlights despite being messy and having nonsense throughout.
There seems to be a large portion of the population that hates Michael Bay. I’m not going to say that he’s the devil incarnate, but I haven’t particularly enjoyed his movies of late (I say of late because I loved The Rock) – TMNT and TMNT2 were a bit of a mess, and the continued amount of Transformer films fills me with dread (despite the fact I can’t help but be intrigued by the involvement of those like Anthony Hopkins). (Yes in case you’re wondering I do have two sets of parentheses in the same sentence – my bad for not following the traditional grammar rules – let’s just say I have more thoughts than I can get out like a normal person).
So, naturally, with my recent knowledge of his films, when I saw Directed by Michael Bay pop up on my television screen, I may or may not have let out a small groan. But sometimes, (ok, quite often) my initial thoughts or groans turn into a rapid excitement. Despite writing about movies daily, I never quite seem to be entirely right about movies until I watch them.
I’m not sure how I passed over The Island which somehow stars Ewan McGregor, Scarlet Johansson, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, and Djimon Hounsou. It tells the story of Lincoln Six Echo (McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Johansson) as they strive to reach the mythical island. The entire first half of the film is filled with a scientific dread, and even before the twists that are revealed, there is a distinct sense of wrongness throughout. You know what it reminds me of? District 13 in The Hunger Games series – rationed food, everyone wearing the same clothes, controlled amounts of fun, etc.
Somewhere around the halfway point of the film, all plot considerations seem to just leave the movie behind. It devolves into a giant chase scene for the final hour or so of the film. If there is one thing that Mr. Bay knows, it’s chases and explosions, and both are featured heavily here. It’s actually extremely exhilarating, with our characters constantly figuring out new ways to survive in the chase.
Speaking of those characters, I thought that Ms. Johansson and Mr. McGregor did a stellar job with what they were given. The fact that the agnates were essentially raised to be childlike is something that is often taken for granted when it comes to be acting. Their childlike wonder often comes across to propel conversations that otherwise would have staled out. Along with that, they play the roles with an innoncence that is rarely seen in the movies. Bit parts are fleshed out with Hounsou, who plays a mercenary, Buscemi, who plays the same character he always does, and Sean Bean, who plays a sleazy corporate doctor.
I’m not going out and saying that this is a great movie – it barely qualifies as good. But it is extremely entertaining, as well as coming out and putting forth some political views on a lot of the progress that science continues to make. That’s what good science fiction films tend to do – ask questions and leave them only partially answered. This movie fits that, and is good enough for a “B-“ from me.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"