Movie Review: “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”

Starring
Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Robert Knepper, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge
Director
Edward Zwick

One of the main reasons why “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is an invigorating sequel is because it doesn’t share a whole lot in common with its predecessor. While Christopher McQuarrie’s lean and muscular thriller didn’t dig very deep into its titular character, director Edward Zwick’s film raises plenty of questions about the former military man. Zwick, a filmmaker known more for dramas than popcorn thrillers, brings his personal touch to the series based on Lee Child’s popular novels while also producing an impressive crowd-pleaser.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is still drifting, traveling from town to town with a few dollars in his pocket. As the opening establishes, though, the former major isn’t done helping people in need. He also still has some ties to the military, like Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who often works with Reacher, but only over the phone. After the two develop a friendship and respect for each other, they make plans to meet when Reacher travels to Washington D.C. Once Reacher arrives in the nation’s capital and enters her office, however, he discovers that Turner is facing accusations of treason. Reacher doesn’t buy it, and he’ll do whatever he can do to prove her innocence.

Part of what’s great about McQuarrie’s film is that Jack Reacher is already Jack Reacher. He’s not at a moral crossroads. He knows right and wrong. He knows who he is. On the other hand, what’s so appealing about Zwick’s film is that we get to see Reacher start to ask questions about himself. We learned more about Reacher through action in McQuarrie’s movie, and this time around, screenwriters Richard Wenk, Marshall Herskovitz and Zwick place some of those actions under a microscope. There’s an inherent sadness to the character’s way of life; he has no real personal connections. “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” often likes to take its time to truly show what kind of effect that life of solitude would have on someone.

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Movie Review: “Edge of Tomorrow”

Starring
Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Noah Taylor
Director
Doug Liman

There’s a pretty good chance that every review about “Edge of Tomorrow” will reference the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day” at least once, and that’s because both films feature a very similar plot device, not unlike the one that was also employed in Duncan Jones’ underseen sci-fi thriller, “Source Code.” But while it may not be the first time that someone has thought of the loop-based time travel concept, “Edge of Tomorrow” is a truly original piece of science fiction that Hollywood should make more often. Clever, fun and surprisingly bold, the film also represents a return to form for director Doug Liman, who makes up for his last foray into the genre (the dull and disappointing “Jumper”) with the first great movie of the summer season.

Based on the Japanese novel “All You Need is Kill” (a title that Liman should have fought tooth and nail to keep), the film takes place in a near future where Earth has been invaded by an alien race known as Mimics. With most of Europe already lost, the world’s leaders plan to launch a synchronized, all-or-nothing attack on the enemy in an attempt to gain the upper hand. But when Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) – a hotshot spin doctor for the U.S. Army – is ordered onto the front line in a bid to rally public support, he tries to blackmail the general (Brendan Gleeson) responsible and is arrested, stripped of his rank and deployed anyway. Cage has absolutely no combat training, and he dies within minutes of landing on the battlefield… only to wake up back at the base camp 24 hours earlier. Caught in an infinite loop where he must repeat the same day over and over again (with his death serving as the reset button), Cage discovers that he’s been infected with the Mimics’ ability to control time. Desperate for answers, he teams up with Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) – a celebrated war hero who acquired the same powers before eventually losing them – to track down the alien hive and put an end to the war.

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The Light from the TV Shows: Chatting with Lara Pulver about ‘Fleming,’ ‘Da Vinci’s Demons,’ and more

Lara Pulver made her first TV appearance in 2009, but she’s quickly racked up a list of credits that’d impress just about any TV viewer, including roles on Robin Hood, True Blood, MI-5, Sherlock, Skins, and Da Vinci’s Demons. In addition to popping up briefly in the current run of Sherlock and returning to Da Vinci’s Demons for its upcoming sophomore season, Pulver can also be found in BBC America’s new limited-series event, Fleming, playing Ann Charteris, the woman who – 62-year-old spoiler alert! – eventually went on to be Mrs. Ian Fleming. Bullz-Eye was fortunate enough to chat with Pulver at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, and we asked her about all of the aforementioned small-screen roles while also touching on her film work with Idris Elba, Michael Sheen, and Tom Cruise.

Fleming_1

Bullz-Eye: So how much did you know about Ian Fleming’s life before you signed on to this project?

Lara Pulver: As a Brit, I knew his novels, I knew he was behind the Bond franchise, but I knew nothing about the man.

BE: How surprised were you to learn about him?

LP: I found him fascinating. Like, from a psychoanalytic point of view. His relationship with his mom, the depressive arrogance, his ego when it came to women, his failure as a man when it came to finding an occupation, finding his niche in life… And yet he never really lived long enough to find out the true success of what we now celebrate as 50 years of Bond as a franchise. So I found it fascinating.

BE: Were you a Bond fan going in?

LP: It’s definitely in British arts and culture history. It’s on TV at Christmas. There’s always a Bond movie. And it’s quite fascinating how they’ve been able to reinvent to make it so current 50 years on.

BE: Were you familiar enough with the franchise to recognize the bits and pieces of it that turned up in his real life?

LP: Yeah, and it’s also so interesting, having done Fleming, to see a Bond movie now. That’s even more interesting.

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Movie Review: “Oblivion”

Starring
Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo
Director
Joseph Kosinski

He rides a sweet motorcycle, flies a badass futuristic stealth bomber, wears a cool NASCAR-like uniform, does a scene in zero gravity, and kisses two beautiful women. Needless to say, Tom Cruise had several reasons to sign up for “Oblivion,” and as an added bonus, writer/director Joseph Kosinski assembled a slick, compelling story around which to frame the riding and the flying and the floating and the kissing. Sci-fi fans will likely cry foul with regard to how much “Oblivion” borrows from a smaller film released a few years back (to say its name would give away too much), and rightfully so. Indeed, “Oblivion” is in many ways a souped-up, big-budget remake of the smaller film. The original is better, as is often the case, but “Oblivion” is quite good as well. It’s beautifully shot, it carries a palpable sense of unease, and it keeps its cards close to the vest. The poker face approach gets frustrating at times, but in the end it was nice to see a science fiction film that doesn’t patronize its audience.

In the years following a war that devastated Earth and killed the population, technician Jack Harper (Cruise) and his work/life partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) literally live in a penthouse in the clouds. Jack and Victoria take instructions from Sally (Melissa Leo) at Mission Control to keep a group of spherical drones functioning so the good guys can defend themselves against a group of alien scavengers who seek to undermine their efforts even though the war is long over. Jack has strange memories, though, of a woman he’s never met and a life he’s never lived. When the scavengers set up a beacon that attracts a ship, Jack investigates the landing site and is stunned to discover that the woman in his dreams is one of the passengers. Soon after, Jack receives a visit from the scavengers, and is forced to rethink everything he has ever known.

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Tom Cruise and former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko in Dublin at Guinness Storehouse

Earlier today, the Guinness Storehouse (the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland) rolled out the red carpet to welcome one of the world’s most famous actors in history, Tom Cruise. Cruise jetted into Dublin as part his worldwide tour for his latest movie, “Oblivion,” accompanied by director Joseph Kosinski and Cruise’s leading, lady former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko.

The group was treated to a private tour of the Guinness Brewery, and Tom received a one-on-one session with Master Brewer Fergal Murray to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.

Since opening its doors in 2000, the Guinness Storehouse has welcomed over 9 million visitors from around the world and is Ireland’s number one international visitor attraction. The building, a former fermentation plant in the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, holds a seven story Guinness experience which allows visitors to gain an understanding of why Guinness has become one of the world’s most iconic and best loved brands.

  

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