The only difference between Jack Reacher and Ethan Hawke is that the latter dresses better and drives cooler cars. But they both present intriguing questions of post-modern art appreciation. Is Tom Cruise cleverly suggesting that these two killing machines are actually automatons, like Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina (and hence offering a devilishly cunning comment on the nature of government executions) or is Tom Cruise himself an automaton, controlled by an algorithm that hasn’t as yet managed to finesse the finer points of human-like expression?

A human acting as an automaton, or an automaton acting as a human. Fascinating.

What other reason could there possibly be for so many talented people (director Ed Zwick; writers Richard Wenk of The Magnificent Seven and Marshall Herskovitz of The Last Samurai etc) coming together to produce what is (no question about it) on the surface, such staggering hokum.

The movie…let’s call it a screened and recorded version of performance art, centres around Jack’s attempt to date a voice he’s fallen in love with. (There’s obviously a clue here: he or it, isn’t attempting to date a real human, merely a disembodied voice that demonstrates human empathy).

Anyway the owner of the voice is the stunning (aren’t they all?) Major Turner (Cobie Smulders), who’s just been arrested. She just knows too much (A cynical comment by director Zwick on the future threat of android cognition?) and must be killed. Reacher wanted to date her. Baddies simply want to take her out.

Android Jack (who himself is being framed for fathering an offspring, or replicant, as I think they’re called) knows she’s innocent. This knowledge (Reacher is programmed to defend the innocent) triggers its lean, mean fighting machine neurons; and from that point on, it’s all running, jumping, shooting and kicking. Once Jack’s neurons have been activated, there’s no turning them off until all perceived threat has been terminated.


Elon Musk, the billionaire financier behind Space X has suggested, along with quite a distinguished group of physicists, that perhaps we’re all really living in a Matrix type reality. We’re not really here…all part of a vast imagined consciousness. Perhaps Jack Ryan: Never Go Back, so close to Warcraft or one of those hyper-real video games, is just a sly way of helping us realize and get used to the idea that what passes for real, call that “human”, is simply a real-esque facsimile of what we imagine real to really be.
It’s damnably clever


Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Dir: Edward Zwick (“Defiance” “Blood Diamond”) . With Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”) , Danika Yarosh. Screenplay: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz from the book(s) by Lee Child


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