Jack Reacher is one of those films I had to go back and revisit to not only freshen up going into the premiere of Jack Reacher Never Go Back, but make sure I liked it too. I honestly could not remember as I hadn’t seen the first film since 2013 when I reviewed the Blu-ray here. Fret not! Despite only having three action scenes to write home about I still enjoyed it quite a bit. I get so confused with the Mission Impossible films that I had to distance myself from them to get into the whole psyche of who the character of Jack Reacher really is. I’m all good now and ready to tackle the second entry in the Jack Reacher film franchise made possible only because the first flick grossed $200 million worldwide. That’s not a whole lot of money, but Paramount felt comfortable in it nonetheless to invest in a sequel so who am I to argue. I love all new 4K Ultra HD releases. Bring ’em!
Jack Reacher Never Go Back is a sequel to the 2012 film, but you really don’t need to have seen the first one prior. Coincidentally its based upon the 2013 Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back, by Lee Child. It’s directed by Edward Zwick and co-written with Richard Wenk and Marshall Herskovitz. In addition to the never aging vampire, Tom Cruise, Never Go Back stars Cobie Smulders, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh and Holt McCallany. I got to admit, I’m sad that Rosamund Pike is not in this one for at least continuity sake. For some reason I really liked her in the first flick.
Jack Reacher Never Go Back is set four years since the events of the first film. Jack Reacher has been busy since we last hung out with him in 2012. He’s been working with Major Susan Turner (Smulders), who is now head of his old military unit, on solving cases across the country. So here he comes to meet with her (with what I believe to be construed as romantic interests) only to find out she has been accused of espionage and arrested. Needless to say Jack springs back to full blown investigator mode like only he can. He believes she’s innocent, but the military law doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Jack. Agree to disagree? Nah! He smells a conspiracy, a major military one. Despite Susan’s initial objections to him doing so it’s up to Jack to go on the offense and bring the curtains down in typical Jack Reacher fashion. Now we’re talking!
Jack Reacher Never Go Back is a unique one. It does not play it safe and merely copy the investigative puzzle piece work of the first film. Instead its pretty much a linear narrative for our hero, albeit a personal one too. For me it was a thrilling one because I love this character, but I could see many being bored as the story moves at snail pace at times and is a bloated one for its own simplistic good. Even though those are legit complaints I still sit in my seat riveted by what insane fight scene will come next. If there’s one thing to love above all else in the Jack Reacher films, it’s the raw, brutal fight sequences. Jack’s blows are quick, effective and with the exception of the final fight never really too insane keeping you secure in your suspension of disbelief. Best of all his execution is lethal and not watered down. That’s what I love the most about this franchise. They don’t shy away from the “Finish Them” moment.
One thing that struck me odd in the first Jack Reacher film is the character’s sexuality. It’s unorthodox in screenplays to not have that romantic love interest for your main protagonist. Basically its storytelling 101 in my opinion. Hence that’s my only problem with the character of Jack Reacher. What’s his sexual preference? He seems to be a hit the way the ladies throw themselves at him, but he does not reciprocate at all, not even in a playful or teasing way. Isn’t that odd to you? It is for me. That’s why the character of Major Susan Turner is so important to me here. For the first time Jack seems to have romantic interest in a female…or does he? It makes you wonder though not that there’s anything wrong with it. Ha ha.
So since we’re on the subject of Cobie Smulders let’s chat about her real quick. I’ve only ever seen her as Maria Hill in the Marvel superhero films and I got to be honest with you. It’s nice to see Jack have a pal. Instead of being out there kicking arse solo he has a partner in crime who’s every bit as good in the combat department as he and looks better doing it too (because of the laws of attraction of course). I can see people complaining about this though as this shows a lot of vulnerabilities in the hard a$$ character that Jack Reacher is supposed to be. He seems conflicted and not rational thinking at times. That’s because he has women problems and it’s not just Major Turner either, it’s because there’s another new/competing “female” now involved in his macho, drifter lifestyle. That’s all I will say on that subject. I just wanted to expand upon how enjoyable the banter was in the relationship between Jack and Susan. It’s like they’re married, but without the physical connection. I’m confusing you, huh? That’s my intention!
So like the first film this one’s very story driven, albeit with a generic and been done before kind of formula. The difference that separates this one from the last one are the action sequences, which are far more numerous than the former. They are done very visceral and well. However, how many new ways can you do a car chase or fight scene? That’s where the personal narrative saved it for me. I actually liked seeing Jack Reacher have a heart and the conflict he had as a result of his caring. There’s an emotional bond I feel with this story, albeit not a strong one, that kept me invested. But make no mistake about it. Jack Reacher Never Go Back is still solid muscle and action entertainment. The familiar storyline is what bogs it down at times, but it never tries to be anything more than it is…just dumb muscle entertainment. However, with that being said please bring on more Jack Reacher adventures, Paramount. I can and want to go another 12 rounds with this cocky, scrappy drifter.
The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
- Encoding: HEVC / H.265
- Resolution: 4K (2160p)
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Clarity/Detail: Never Go Back was shot on film so you better believe it there’s some minor grain employed throughout, but that’s A-okay. It gives it a really nice and authentic pleasing film-like presentation to it all. Armed with that info you should be aware there will be a little moments of softness here or there with certain shots, but fret not UHD fans. Now let’s talk about the really good stuff here such as the clarity and detail in the textures of skin, clothing, sets and environments, furniture, etc. All you have to do is simply look around you and you’re surrounded by rich detail and lavish amenities in the video presentation here.
- Depth: Despite the darkness and oddly lit moments at times all the onscreen characters definitely have that three-dimensional pop going for them separating them from the backgrounds. From the alleys in the city to the sweeping landscapes and various other environments throughout I have zero complaints in this department.
- Black Levels: The black levels throughout appear deep and inky, but worry not because the HDR infused presentation doesn’t allow any visible crushing. I particularly love the natural looking night time shots infused with HDR making sure no small detail goes unnoticed and the pop in the contrast between red and blue police sirens for example. Those moments look like a million bucks for me.
- Color Reproduction: Also thanks to the HDR infused presentation the colors here retain both a sense of accuracy and neutrality throughout. It’s one phenomenal looking presentation in that regards. I just love how authentic and natural looking the colors look in this 4K title. Now one thing to call out though is the odd lighting choices. There are many moments where the filmmakers chose to only use lighting coming in from nearby windows in a scene or the blinding sun itself. Those shots can be a bit overblown and weird looking at times. I’m just saying. It’s not perfect, hence the 4.5 score up above.
- Flesh Tones: The temperatures of the characters’ skin tones all look natural and authentic pleasing throughout.
- Noise/Artifacts: Other than a light veneer layer of grain sprinkled throughout there are no obtrusive flaws in the print to report on here. It just has that nice, crowd pleasing, shot on film quality look to it all. You really can’t ask for anything more than that.
Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Paramount did not skimp in the audio department here. Both the 4K UHD disc and the regular 1080p Blu-ray come armed with a Dolby Atmos surround track.
- Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
- Dynamics: I’m pleased to report this one sounds like a police action thriller in the dynamics department once we get about 30 minutes into it . The score provides ample filling as it “surrounds” all channels at times and complements the action and onscreen events. More importantly though is the dialogue never gets lost in the heat of the action and always remains prominent throughout. Effects and other discrete moments all sound authentic and authoritative in their respective environments/channels. Like the video presentation things just have a natural kind of sound here that I can definitely appreciate.
- Height: While I’m extremely happy to have a Dolby Atmos track I don’t feel like they really took advantage of all things with it here. I mean there’s a heavy rain scene and they don’t even utilize it for the downpour at all. Say what? Come on guys! Dolby Atmos is suppose to provide the atmosphere. Bring da rain! However, that’s not to say the height channel isn’t utilized because it is. From when an airplane takes off slightly overhead and steam rising to Army convoy explosions and fireworks the Atmosphere channels are used some. Ironically twenty minutes or so into the film there’s another quick scene with pouring raining and I quickly heard it in the height channels. All in all though this could have easily been a DTS-HD MA track as it didn’t feel like a loud, boisterous Atmos one.
- Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel hits hard in all your speaker configurations throughout as every shot, punch and thud makes itself known with aggression and authority, not to mention the score at times too. From explosions to fireworks you feel the thunder thanks to the LFE channel here. It’s not going to rock your house hard like Pacific Rim, but you definitely appreciate what Paramount gives you here.
- Surround Sound Presentation: The surrounds of Never Go Back are equally thrilling throughout creating a sense of immersion thanks to the score, shootouts and bullets spraying and zinging by, cars passing, airplane dings, crowds of patrons in the streets of New Orleans, various action moments, sirens, other little atmospheric nuances and so much more. However, my favorite use of the rears are just the simple atmosphere and environment ones like for example prison doors closing behind you. Like Bush always said it’s the little things that kill for me.
- Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is well prioritized, clear and intelligible throughout the presentation. I didn’t have any difficulties hearing any of the spoken words. Bonus!
The Jack Reacher: Never Go Back 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack is loaded with over 80 minutes of exciting bonus content, including in-depth interviews with the cast and crew, plus detailed explorations of Lee Child’s iconic character, filming on location in Louisiana, the intense action sequences and so much more. Don’t forget since this is Paramount you also get a redeemable Digital HD code good for both iTunes and your favorite UltraViolet retailer. So without further ado let’s tackle all the extras housed on the 1080p Blu-ray disc in further meticulous detail like Jack Reacher would do.
- Reacher Returns (HD, 11:31) – This one is all about the character with Tom Cruise talking about how he relates to Jack Reacher and Lee Child discusses the evolution of Jack, etc. It also goes into how they selected this book to adapt, the story, etc. My fiancee yells out when we were watching this that they made this from a book. Ha ha. Yeah. Umm…these are a series of books. LOL.
- An Unexpected Family (HD, 14:31) – This one talks about Jack’s women problems in this film. Ha ha. It explores his relationships with the characters of both Major Turner and Samantha. I still can’t believe the ending. He had it all. Grr.
- Relentless: On Location in Louisiana (HD, 25:46) – This one talks about you guessed it…shooting in Louisiana. Now if you know anything about the filmmaking business, you know why they film in Louisiana…the tax incentives. And due to the limited success of the first Jack Reacher outing there are budget constraints to contend with here. Rest assured this is also discussed within this extra and much more, including some behind-the-scenes stuff too.
- Take Your Revenge First: Lethal Combat (HD, 12:42) – This one goes into detail on the stunt and choreography work to prepare for the intense action and brutal fight scenes, which is the main reason why I love this character and his opponent takedown probabilities.
- No Quarter Given: Rooftop Battle (HD, 8:13) – This one is all about the brutal and unbelievable rooftop fight during the film’s finale.
- Reacher in Focus: With Tom Cruise and Photographer David James (HD, 8:33) – This one is really an odd choice as it explores the on-set still photography instead of the usual filming and cinematography talk, etc. So I guess you can call this a unique extra FWIW.
Jack Reacher returns to enforce his bold brand of justice in the action-packed sequel based on author Lee Child’s best-selling series. When Army Major Susan Turner is framed for treason, Reacher discovers she’s the target of a massive government conspiracy. With help from Turner and a mysterious new ally, Reacher risks everything to take down a powerful organization that will stop at nothing to protect its secrets. Now doesn’t that sound like the kind of thriller you just want to watch over and over again on 4K UHD Blu-ray? Ha ha. Well granted while Never Go Back is not as great as its predecessor, it’s still good to be back in league with Jack and his hardcore stance on brutal deliverance of justice. And as an added bonus it sure looks and sounds really swell on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray so there’s always that too. For the fans out there this is a MUST-OWN. All others proceed wth caution armed with the knowledge that this sequel does not live up to the expectations in comparison to the first one, which I’m sure everyone was hoping for. At the end of the day though for me I’m just happy to have another film I can have a good time with on the best home media format possible…4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Get it while it’s hot!
Jack Takes Care of Business Again
in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray