Edward Zwick blames himself for the failure of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Director Edward Zwick reflects on the failure of his 2016 film Jack Reacher: Never Go Back in his memoir, blaming himself for it


Sure, Tom Cruise doesn’t look anything like the Jack Reacher character as described in the novels by Lee Child – but the average movie-goer didn’t seem to mind in 2012, when audiences showed up to make the film Jack Reacher, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (based on Child’s novel One Shot) a box office success. Made on a budget of $60 million, Jack Reacher earned over $218 million worldwide. It looked like Cruise had a new franchise on his hands. But sometimes bizarre decisions are made in the name of franchise filmmaking. With McQuarrie busy working on a different Cruise franchise (Mission: Impossible), the Jack Reacher sequel was passed over to Cruise’s The Last Samurai director Edward Zwick. A promising start. But then the questionable decisions began, resulting in a sequel – 2016’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – that fell short of its predecessor in every way.

Zwick reflects on the failure of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back in his memoir Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood (pick up a copy HERE), writing, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, which Tom Cruise and I made in 2016, fizzled at the box office. I blame myself (and my willing accomplice, Don Granger) for thinking the audience might enjoy a mash-up of Jack Reacher and Paper Moon, when in fact they just wanted more red meat. I had a wonderful time working with Cobie Smulders, and I certainly don’t blame Tom for not being six two – as the novelist Lee Child described his protagonist – and should Tom happen to call about making a third movie together, I’ll definitely pick up.

Like I said, bizarre choices. Jack Reacher had just introduced us to a great new hero: an Army MP-turned-drifter tough guy who would bust bones and crack skulls while solving mysteries. The fact that anyone would think the best option for a sequel would be to saddle the character with a child sidekick (who may or may not be his daughter) in a Paper Moon mash-up is baffling. But that’s what we got. I still enjoyed the movie, but it’s not what I was hoping the second Reacher movie would be.

Made on a budget somewhere in the range of 60 to 96 million, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back earned $162 million at the worldwide box office. The film franchise ended there. Now Reacher lives on as a TV series on Prime Video, with the more Child-accurate Alan Ritchson in the title role.

What do you think of the Jack Reacher films, and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back in particular? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Source: Edward Zwick

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.