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Film / Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a 2016 American action thriller film directed by Edward Zwick. A sequel to 2012 film Jack Reacher, the film stars Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders and Danika Yarosh.

Four years after the events of the first film, Jack Reacher is returning to the headquarters of his old military unit. He comes to meet Major Susan Turner who has been working with him on solving cases across the country.

Upon his arrival, he is informed that Turner is accused of espionage. While trying to exonerate her, he also learns that he may be the biological father of a 15-year-old girl who is also in danger.

The 2022 series Reacher is a Continuity Reboot that is not connected to the films.

This film contains examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: The first Jack Reacher was more of a thriller that happened to have action scenes in it, and even those action scenes were subjected to Deconstruction of common action movie tropes and Surprisingly Realistic Outcome. Never Go Back features more shootouts, fights, car chases, and explosions, the last of which didn't occur in the first movie.
  • Action Girl: Major Susan Turner doesn't let Reacher keep all the ass-kicking for himself this time around.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Reacher struggles and even loses a fight he has assistance with, while his novel counterpart can easily take on Special Forces without too much of a hassle. Justified as these are top-percentile fighters and Reacher usually has to fight while wounded — or with a hostage's life at stake. (There is also the fact that jack reacher's novel counterpart is 6 foot 5 and weighs 250 pounds whereas Tom Cruse clearly does not).
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: The Hunter starts trying to find and kill Sam because he knows it'll bring Reacher out into the open. He then swears he will do it just for the hell of it, regardless of whether or not Reacher is dead by then. Their final fight happens because the Hunter, now the last man standing after the Parasource conspiracy is blown wide open and everybody is dead or arrested, decides trying to keep his word is Worth It.
  • Artistic License – Military: Military Police have no jurisdiction to arrest civilian law enforcement officers outside a military reservation, even if a person committed a crime previously on the property of a military reservation. Federal Agents who do have arrest authority of nonmilitary persons, such as civilian US Army Criminal Investigative Division Special Agents and/or FBI Special Agents would be arresting the sheriff instead of MPs.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Hunter.
  • The Big Easy: The second half takes place in New Orleans.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sam practically bleeds this trope due to her comfortless upbringing. Though she turns out not to be Reacher's daughter in the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Jack Reacher goes into an abandoned building and is confronted my mercenaries, a metal hook is dangling between him and the lead merc. Jack opens up the fight by swinging the hook into his face.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Halfway in, Major Turner teaches Sam a defensive technique to disarm an attacker. Reacher claims if she gets in a position where such a technique could be used, she would be "already dead". In the end, she successfully disarms the Hunter when Reacher repeats the same phrase.
  • Clear Their Name: Reacher takes on his own hands proving that Turner is innocent of the espionage charges she's accused.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Turner makes a habit of arming herself with a melee weapon before entering hand-to-hand combat to make up for her smaller size.
  • Creator Cameo: Lee Child briefly appears as a TSA agent.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The film opens on the aftermath of one inflicted by Reacher on four thugs. The men are so badly injured a cop on the scene asks if they were run over by a car.
  • Diner Brawl: Reacher takes down a group of thugs outside a diner in a small town as a gambit to take down the town's corrupt sheriff by drawing him out to the crime scene.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The Hunter, quite possibly the most dangerous opponent Reacher faces in the movie.
  • Dragon Their Feet: After Harkness is in custody, Reacher is left to deal with the Hunter, who is after Samantha. When Reacher points out to the Hunter that Harkness has been arrested, the Hunter replies that he doesn't give a shit about Harkness' capture.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: It's been established that the Hunter is a freelance mercenary-for-hire. He kills one of his employers after Reacher and Turner interrogate him. In the final battle, when Reacher points out to the Hunter that Harkness has been arrested, he replies that he doesn't give a shit.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Hunter directly addresses their similarities in a phone conversation with Reacher.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Hunter is constantly smiling and acting chummy with Reacher and all other people he's getting ready to threaten and kill.
  • First-Name Basis: Unlike everyone else in the film, the Hunter makes a point of calling Reacher "Jack".
  • Frame-Up: Susan Turner is accused of espionage, and Reacher believes that she has been framed.
  • Freakier Than Fiction: The MacGuffin is some kind of goods being smuggled into Afghanistan, which Turner assumes is surplus weapons. Reacher's puzzled, however; Parasource have lost over a billion dollars in government contracts because of the collateral damage from covering up the smuggling, but surplus weapons are actually really cheap; an M4 rifle is only worth 5 grand, a rocket launcher half that. "The numbers don't add up." It's actually backwards; General Harkness is smuggling surplus weapons full of pure opium out of Afganistan. At the Dénouement, the shipment Reacher found is stated to be 500 kilos of pure opium — at $200 per gram, that's five million dollars! but that is just one shipment, Parasource would have to have brought in at minimum 200 shipments like that to pay off their creditors. This does have historical basis - from allegations of CIA drug trafficking in Vietnam to the CIA's involvement in cocaine trafficking in Colombia.
  • Genre Blind: Sam has apparently never watched a single crime or conspiracy movie in her life. She knows she's on the run from a bunch of very resourceful bad guys that want her dead, yet she can't resist using her cellphone to send an SMS, which of course puts the bad guys she, Turner and Reacher had just lost back on their trail. Later she one-ups herself by using a stolen credit card to pay for her hotel's room service. Needless to say the Hunter and his cronies crash the place minutes later.
  • Halloween Episode: When Reacher, Turner, and Sam arrive at New Orleans, it's a day before Halloween. The climax is set on Halloween night. On a meta-level, the film was released ten days before the holiday.
  • The Heavy: The Hunter technically is nothing more than muscle for General Harkness, but he's the one who drives most of the plot.
  • Insistent Terminology: Reacher is quick to tell anybody else that it's ex-Major Reacher.
  • Ironic Echo: In one scene, Jack knocks out a mook through the window and tells the other mook that he doesn't like being followed. In another scene a few minutes later, Samantha tells him the same.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: When the Hunter starts threatening Reacher about Sam, Reacher becomes more determined to bring him down at all costs.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Averted. The Hunter notes that "enhanced interrogation" doesn't work, but that torture does as he's breaking Moorcroft to verify that Moorcroft hadn't revealed more than the basic information on Turner's case. Later, Reacher threatens to break the tendons in Morgan's hand to get him to give up a passcode to their email, but doesn't try for further information.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The movie version of Reacher is noticeably faster and more agile than his literary counterpart, who can deliver lightning-fast blows but is described as a slow and heavy runner. Given who he's played by, this is hardly out of place.
  • Loophole Abuse: When Reacher asks an Army NCO who Turner's lawyer is, she says she cannot answer. He then asks her if her superior is hypothetically arrested, who she would recommend as a lawyer, to which she provides the lawyer's name as an option.
  • Majorly Awesome:
    • The film reveals that Reacher held the rank of Major when he went off the grid. He insists on being called ex-Major Reacher.
    • Susan Turner is a Major, and knows how to kick ass awesomely.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When Reacher is questioned about the death of Susan's attorney, he's told that he has a right not to answer any questions. From then on, every response he gives is "yes," as in "Yes, I understand I don't have to answer any questions."
  • Mugged for Disguise: Reacher mugs Espin for the disguise to break Turner and himself out of jail.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Reacher steals a lawyer's car keys and asks Turner what a lawyer might drive. She suggests a black sedan. They run into a parking lot full of black Chrysler 200 sedans. They use the alarm mechanism as a distraction and then apparently hitch a ride on a food truck instead... except that when the MPs catch up to the foot truck, the back of it is empty and it's revealed that Reacher and Turner hijacked an MP vehicle, and presumably left among their own pursuit.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The final fight between Reacher and the Hunter.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Not only does General Harkness have very little screen time, he also doesn't do any action against the protagonists. In the end, he is exposed and imprisoned.
  • No Romantic Resolution: There was a heavy Ship Tease between Reacher and Turner, but nothing came of it. It's still left unclear if there is anything between them at the end of the film.
  • Not Hyperbole: Jack isn't kidding when he tells the Hunter than he'll break his arms, legs and neck.
  • Papa Wolf: Even though the two are not related, Reacher is very protective of Sam.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Look at me. You look at me." The Hunter does. Reacher snaps his neck with a punch.
  • Private Military Contractors: Para Source, a merc company employed by the US Army for post-war clean-up operations in Afghanistan, is behind more or less everything bad that happens in this movie.
  • Secret Test: Sam gives one to Jack at the end of the movie when she arranges for Jack to meet her at a cafe where her mother works as a waitress; neither her mother nor Jack recognize the other.
  • Ship Tease: Jack Reacher calling up Turner and asking her out kicks off the plot. Later on, Turner confronts Jack and asks him what he was planning after their date. But - nothing happens. It's still left unclear at the end of the film, but somewhat implied that nothing happens between them.
  • Shout-Out: A Final Battle between The Hero and the villain set on a rooftop/balcony in the middle of a Halloween parade? May or may not be a reference to Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: The Hunter is a former soldier who went to work for Para Source, and has no problem killing other soldiers as part of the job. He even compares himself to Reacher in that both of them can't give up the job even after leaving, though Reacher's obviously translates to a more noble pursuit than the Hunter's.
  • Street Smart: Samantha is shown early on shoplifting from a store. Later in the film, she reveals that she's lifted credit cards from her rich classmates at Pembroke, is able to pick out a good target for Reacher to pickpocket for ID, and later manages to slip a phone into Reacher's pocket at the end.
  • Terms of Endangerment: The Hunter makes a point of keeping on calling Reacher "Jack" as a part of his Faux Affably Evil act.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A mook takes cover from Reacher's gunfire behind a stack of fuel drums. The expected happens.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Zig-zagged. Jack Reacher calling up Turner and asking her out for dinner kicks off the plot. Later on, Turner then confronts Reacher about what he was planning after their date, confirming a Ship Tease. The mutual attraction is neither confirmed nor denied by Turner. At the end of the film, it's implied that nothing happens...somewhat. To add insult to injury, there were many opportunities for the two to get together (it's implied they slept in the same room) but it just never materialized.
    Turner: "You came here to get one girl but left with another."
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The final fight between Reacher and the Hunter begins with Sam disarming the Hunter before Reacher tackles him off the roof. Both the Hunter's and Reacher's guns remain up there with Sam and, more importantly, Turner, loaded and free for the taking, which might make one wonder why Major Turner doesn't use it.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Reacher and Turner are eventually cleared of the murder and espionage charges against them, which of course means they are forgiven for breaking out of prison, beating up a bunch of soldiers, and stealing several vehicles in the process of proving their innocence.
  • The Worf Effect: Reacher can handle any mook or henchman. However, the Hunter manages to put up more of a fight than anyone else, even the previous movie's dragon Charlie.
  • Worf Had the Flu: The final fight. Both Reacher and the Hunter are wounded but that doesn't stop the fight scene from being brutal as the two exchange some heavy blows.
  • You Can Barely Stand: In their final battle, Reacher and the Hunter have just fallen off a roof and landed on a solid floor about two or three meters below. They are clearly having trouble even keeping themselves upright, but still manage a brutal fight.