Based on the Lee Child best­seller that has his hero ac­cuses of a homi­cide, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the long-awaited sec­ond movie in the se­ries. Crime Scene meet di­rec­tor Edward Zwick to talk Tom Cruise, lit­er­ary thrillers and film­ing his first-ever


Edward Zwick on the se­quel star­ring Tom Cruise.

As Edward Zwick ar­rives at the plush screen­ing room at the Bev­erly Hills Four Sea­sons Ho­tel, a hush de­scends. Dressed in a black shirt and jeans, the bearded di­rec­tor of Glory and Blood Di­a­mond is here to present footage from the first se­quel of his ca­reer, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Ex­cept “se­quel” doesn’t quite fit – the idea be­ing that this fran­chise, based on Lee Child’s se­ries of nov­els and star­ring Tom Cruise in the ti­tle role, is “a lit­tle bit more of an an­thol­ogy”.

The first clip – which can also be glimpsed in the trailer – sees a small-town sher­iff en­ter a diner where Reacher is sit­ting alone, hav­ing taken out a posse of guys. “Two things are go­ing to hap­pen in the next 90 sec­onds,” Reacher says, when he’s ar­rested and cuffed. “First that phone over there is go­ing to ring. Sec­ond, you’re go­ing to be wear­ing these cuffs on the way to prison.” It’s a neat re-in­tro­duc­tion to this ex-ma­jor in the US Army Mil­i­tary Police Corps turned trou­bleshoot­ing drifter.

Echo­ing Child’s stand­alone ap­proach to his nov­els, Zwick warns you shouldn’t ex­pect a di­rect fol­low-on from Christo­pher Mc­quar­rie’s 2012 film Jack Reacher. The “an­thol­ogy” idea is a lib­er­at­ing one, he ex­plains, when we re­con­vene up­stairs. “That pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity, I think, be­cause the set­tings are dif­fer­ent, the sit­u­a­tions are dif­fer­ent, the char­ac­ters are dif­fer­ent… A lot of su­per­hero se­quel

movies, they re­sem­ble each other greatly. I think it might be nice if this re­sem­bles the pre­vi­ous one a lit­tle bit less.”

In many ways, the am­bi­tions for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back re­call what Cruise has so art­fully man­aged across the Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble fran­chise, bring­ing in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tor – in­clud­ing Mc­quar­rie – for each of the five episodes to date. “The thing about Tom, if you look back at all the direc­tors he has cho­sen, he tends to want to have a di­rec­tor bring their own spin, or their own vi­sion, to these things that he does,” says Zwick, who pre­vi­ously col­lab­o­rated with the ac­tor on the 2003 drama The Last Sa­mu­rai.

While that film was a project Zwick ini­ti­ated, this time it was Cruise who called the di­rec­tor out of the blue with a “vi­sion… that he in­vited me into”. It had been a dozen years since they had worked to­gether. “He said, ‘Would you be in­ter­ested?’ My first in­stinct was, ‘I don’t know. I’ve never done any­thing like that – a se­quel.’ He said, ‘Read the book.’ And I read the book – and the movie is not the book. The movie par­takes of the book, and takes some very good parts of the book, but also be­comes it­self.”

Scripted ini­tially by Richard Wenk, whose cred­its in­clude ac­tion sta­ples The Ex­pend­ables 2, The Me­chanic and The Equal­izer, the film adapts Never Go Back, the 18th Reacher novel in Child’s se­ries, which was pub­lished to much ac­claim back in 2013. (The 21st, Night School, is due in Novem­ber.) “This was one of his best-re­viewed books,” says Zwick, who was im­me­di­ately hooked when he took Cruise’s ad­vice and got read­ing.

The di­rec­tor dubs Reacher “a very ar­che­typal Amer­i­can char­ac­ter”. The story sees Reacher head back from South Dakota to his old mil­i­tary base in Vir­ginia to wine and dine his re­place­ment, Ma­jor Su­san Turner (played by Co­bie Smul­ders), now his com­mand­ing of­fi­cer. But when he ar­rives, she has been ar­rested and Reacher is ac­cused of a 16-year-old homi­cide. And then there’s the pos­si­bil­ity that he may – or may not – have fa­thered a daugh­ter (played by Heroes Re­born star Danika Yarosh). Some may be sur­prised that Para­mount Stu­dios are bankrolling the project. The first Jack Reacher film – based on One Shot, the ninth book in the se­ries – cost around $57 mil­lion to make and grossed $218 mil­lion. Like the re­views, the fig­ures were good but not mind-blow­ing; and these days a block­buster needs to smash it be­fore a stu­dio will con­sider a se­quel. If the orig­i­nal film was rather over­looked, pro­duc­ing a fol­low-up might be con­sid­ered a pretty bold move in to­day’s risk-averse Hol­ly­wood. Never go back? Not this time… For the 63-yearold Zwick, it was the chance to re­alise an un­re­alised cin­e­matic dream. If much of his film work has a mas­cu­line feel, he’s never yet worked on a crime movie – which seems strange, given his

It harkens back to some of his best work. [Cruise] wants to act as well as en­ter­tain

taste in books. “I’ve read the lit­er­a­ture of the genre for many years, start­ing with Dashiell Ham­mett and Ray­mond Chan­dler, all the way up to Ge­orge Pele­canos and some of the great Dan­ish and Swedish authors,” he re­veals. “So it was fun to work in the genre.”

Zwick took a strictly an­a­lyt­i­cal ap­proach. “Long be­fore this movie or this book se­ries, there are cer­tain things that are oblig­a­tory to a genre – cer­tain kinds of tropes that have to do with who the an­tag­o­nist is and what the jeop­ardy is and what the threats are. I look upon that the same way I would look upon try­ing to write a son­net that had a cer­tain rhyme scheme and me­tre and scan­sion. Be­lieve me, I’m not say­ing this movie is po­etry! But you know what I mean, don’t you?”

What he means is ad­her­ing to the form of the crime yarn, then seek­ing out orig­i­nal­ity from within. With the film not yet fin­ished at the time of go­ing to press, it’s dif­fi­cult to as­sess just how Jack Reacher: Never Go Back breaks the rules. Early footage sees Reacher punch­ing out a bad guy (and a car win­dow). “Who the hell are you?” he’s asked. “The guy you didn’t count on,” he replies. So is this just Cruise play­ing the in­de­struc­tible hero again? “That’s not en­tirely how it hap­pens,” says Zwick, cagily. So he’s fal­li­ble? “A lit­tle bit.”

The way Zwick sees it, this is not the Cruise that we’ve be­come used to see­ing in films like Knight And Day or Obliv­ion. “This is a very in­ter­nal per­for­mance by him,” says Zwick. “I think it harkens back to some of his best work in a way – and you’ll see that. I do ad­mire him go­ing with the flow of what stu­dio movies have be­come, but I think he has real nos­tal­gia and yearn­ing for some of the per­for­mances and movies he was able to make in his ca­reer.” Cit­ing ev­ery­thing from Mag­no­lia to Born On The Fourth Of July, Zwick adds: “He wants to act as well as en­ter­tain.”

While there is noth­ing here akin to Cruise’s dare­devil an­tics on the Mis­sion films, Zwick caught the ac­tor at full blast. “He’s def­i­nitely in­tense! But I’m in­tense. Most peo­ple in this busi­ness are in­tense. I’ve made three movies with Den­zel Washington and he’s in­tense; Leonardo Dicaprio is in­tense. That’s what you sign up for; you en­gage with some­one. There’s a strug­gle but it’s a cre­ative strug­gle. And it’s a strug­gle of am­bi­tion and vi­sion.”

When Cruise was first cast, Reacher fans lamented that the phys­i­cally im­pos­ing 6ft 5in char­ac­ter cre­ated by Child was be­ing played by the 5ft 7in star. “Which ac­tor does match Reacher phys­i­cally?” quipped Child, who seemed at ease with the cast­ing – and, ac­cord­ing to Zwick, was de­lighted with the 2012 movie. “He’s a very gen­er­ous, good guy,” re­ports the di­rec­tor, who had a sim­i­larly good ex­pe­ri­ence with the au­thor on Never Go Back. The book can be con­sid­ered part of a loose quar­tet – fol­low­ing 61 Hours, Worth Dy­ing For and A Wanted Man – but there was never any con­sid­er­a­tion that these had to be adapted first.

“The so­phis­ti­cated authors of books un­der­stand that movies aren’t books,” says Zwick. “He was very in­ter­ested in watch­ing the process by which this be­came a movie. He read the script, sev­eral drafts, and came when we did a ta­ble-read, and ac­tu­ally heard it.” Oth­er­wise, he kept his dis­tance. “He’s busy writ­ing,” Zwick shrugs. “He just wants to sit in his room and write an­other one. He starts and then he fin­ishes, and then it sells a bil­lion copies and then he does it again.”

One ques­tion leaps to mind. While Jack Reacher ben­e­fited from a fan­tas­tic vil­lain played by a men­ac­ing Werner Her­zog, it’s go­ing to be rather dif­fi­cult to top the Ger­man film di­rec­tor. “We do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” hints Zwick. “Although there is a good vil­lain in it. Pa­trick Heusinger plays a very in­ter­est­ing part. He’s sort of a… not quite a dop­pel­ganger of Tom. He’s younger but is a re­flec­tion of him, a mir­ror of a kind.” With Heusinger play­ing a char­ac­ter named only The Hunter, maybe Jack Reacher will have fi­nally met his match.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opens on 21 Oc­to­ber.

Zwick di­rect­ing The Last Sa­mu­rai.

Child was “de­lighted” with the first movie, Zwick says.

Tom­cruise cap­tured the in­ten­sity of the ti­tle char­ac­ter, if not his im­pos­ing stature, in Jack Reacher.

Leechild makes a cameo ap­pear­ance in the first film.

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