On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 31, 2017


If this second Jack Reacher movie is good for anything it's to prove that Tom Cruise is indeed just as much a movie star as he's ever been. Cruise, who has been on something of a roll lately when it comes to action spectacles, has taken some time off from being Ethan Hunt and those impossible missions he tends to embark upon in order to return to the simpler, more straightforward drifter that is Jack Reacher. There's nothing wrong with this choice, nothing at all-in fact, the 2013 Jack Reacher film that was based on the long-running Lee Child's book series was a hard boiled, no frills, balls to the wall action romp that felt practical and logical in every fiber of its being. There was an authenticity to the action and crunch to the violence that made it all feel rather congenital to who this stoic titular character really was. We didn't get much past the solid facade, but the movie itself would give us plenty of mood and attitude in order to fill in the gaps. That Christopher McQuarrie film would take Cruise away from the extraordinary stunts and instead forced him to keep his feet on the ground and running in the vein that we've come to affectionately endure Tom Cruise running in. 2013's Jack Reacher never tried to be anything it wasn't and while this sentiment could be echoed for Never Go Back in all honesty the sequel doesn't try to be much of anything at all. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is so middle of the road predictable that by the time an action scene is loaded and ready to play out there is such a disassociation between the story and Cruise simply strutting around doing his thing that it's hard to care about or invest in either. Not only does Never Go Back feel rather pedestrian in its story and acting though, but the execution couldn't feel more lazy or uninspired either. Helmed by Edward Zwick who previously directed Cruise in the sweeping and rather stunning The Last Samurai I expected more from the duo when it came to delivering simple goods that could be smoldered down into basic formula with only a dose of skill and ingenuity thrown in when it came time for Reacher to dispatch with a few bad guys. Instead, what Zwick and Cruise deliver this time around is the epitome of "just good enough" with that only being more of a disappointment when considering the talent and thus the potential involved. It may be that I watched this on a large format screen, but there are certain action sequences and, even worse, standard dialogue scenes that look as if they belong on an old tube TV. In fact, sans the cell phones, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back very much feels like an action thriller that was produced in 1994 with no higher ambition other than being considered for the long flight home. Video review here. Full review here. D

The best thing one can say about Masterminds is that it seemingly accomplishes what it sets out to do and be. Of course, that's a pretty solid compliment if you're going for a certain type of quirky/oddball comedy that not everyone will understand or even care to understand. It has always felt as if director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) has marched to the beat of a slightly different drum than any other comedy director and that continues to show in his feature films as he documents characters that are interesting or strange because of the inherent state of their personality rather than documenting the actions of fairly average individuals who are put into extraordinary circumstances. That isn't to say the ensemble cast of Masterminds don't find themselves in the middle of some pretty spectacular circumstances because they do, but this is due to the fact they voluntarily sign up for crazy expeditions rather than them being thrust upon them. Now, this isn't original to Hess' films of course; plenty of comedies find humor in the eccentric and the zany, but Hess notches it up a few levels-making his films feel as if they are operating not in the real world, but from the perspective of these bizarre minds that allow us to see the world how they see it: in unconventional and bizarre ways. This is especially glaring in Masterminds as it reminds us time and time again that what is happening is based on a true story that occurred in 1997 and at the time, was the second-largest all-cash robbery in U.S. history. As with most "based on a true story" movies the film version of these events takes the real life events and paints them in broad strokes though it at least seems that writers Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, and Emily Spivey have kept the general facts of the case intact enough while interpreting those actions to inform character decisions that give way to the more outlandish tone the film sports. Of course, how are we to know that what we're treated to in Masterminds isn't exactly how the real David Ghantt perceived things to be during these time in his life? The point is-it doesn't matter. Whether they were or not I can appreciate that Hess takes on a certain singular style and approach and applies it to every scene making what was already a fascinating story that much more enjoyable...if you enjoy Hess' particular brand of nonsense, that is. Full review here. C

Boo! A Madea Halloween is the first Madea movie to be released in theaters in two years-the longest gap we've seemingly had with these films, but Tyler Perry's titular creation came roaring back with a $73.2 million domestic haul on a $20 million budget. Theis latest film finds Madea in the middle of mayhem when she spends a haunted Halloween fending off killers, paranormal poltergeists, ghosts, ghouls and zombies while keeping a watchful eye on a group of misbehaving teens.

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