Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jack Reacher 18 - Never Go Back

Spoilers of both book and movie. Read at your own risk.

Watching a movie and then reading the corresponding movie is an interesting revelation. The impact is deeper. Reversing the order is a little hodge-podge of emotions. I’ve noticed that the movie never matches to the book. Which is totally understandable given they’re working with a limited timeframe and can’t effectively get into a character’s head. But doing the movie first, and the book next is like getting behind the stage after the drama is over. Also interesting is the study of how they modified the book to either dramatize or make concessions for the length.

Reacher #18 produced similar emotions. However both this and the earlier one (One Shot) were a tad disappointing from the adaptation front. As standalone movies, they hold their own. No complaints. If you leave the irony of casting Tom Cruise as Reacher - that being Reacher is taller than your average man @ 6’5” while Cruise is shorter than your average man @ 5’5” - you can say that Cruise does justice to the role. He brings the necessary gravitas to the role. Except that it is not enough adaptionwise. It is mostly because it is not transferred from the book.

Both movies make the lead characters squabble a lot to dramatize. Which is overdoing it. The characters in both books get along quite well with interesting dialogues and insights gleaned as they speak. In the movies, they take jabs and the resulting tension is used to move the movie. I feel they should under-do this dramatization.

Then the part where the lead characters were supposed to have sex. In the book they do - multiple times. Here, the scene was shot and cut off from the movie. So all we see is Reacher and Turner in the hotel room discussing strategy. Only, Turner is just wearing a bra. Really weird since the dynamic between the two is not clear. Is she just comfortable around him so she is dressed so? Or is it after they’ve slept together? (certainly not evident). In fact, the book goes into detail where they talk about taking one room or two in the hotel, eventually deciding for two rooms, yet ending up in bed together. Either way for the movie would have been OK. A sort of movie cliche if they did sleep together but this was left dangling mid air.

The other part is about Reacher’s daughter. The book was nice and easy. And the girl was sweet and messed up in her own way. Here she is nasty all the way (dramatization again). And in the end, it goes very sappy. I guess Hollywood is a sucker for emotions as well.

Finally, the bad guys. The biggest shortcoming and a case in point for Reacher’s gravitas. The bad guys are absolutely no match for Reacher in the book. In fact, they hardly last a punch or two because Reacher executes his strikes with such precision. Just looking at their size, form and formation, the spots to hit and disable them become apparent to him. Years of military experience and a gift of insight. In the movie, he gets pounded by the lead baddie. Absolutely unforgivable. And the baddie has a personal vendetta, that builds in the course of the movie - because he supposedly met his match. Take a cue please - Reacher’s match should be Reacher’s match in the real sense.

In terms of adaptation distortion, I will say it was about 40%. Which is a lot. Harry Potter series on an average was about 20% which was good. One part which I really enjoyed in the book was how Reacher and Turner sent the lead villains a message every step of the way by swiping up large charges on their credit cards - like a slap from miles way. Such little nuances would have spiced up the movie as well.

All said, if the next movie comes out, I am already captive audience. But make Reacher the boss and don’t make him squabble.

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