UK Release Date: 21st October 2016
Runtime: 118 minutes
Director: Edward Zwick
Writer: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Aldis Hodge, Robert Knepper, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany
Synopsis: Reacher goes on the run with the woman who has now taken up his former military post when a conspiracy leads to her arrest and also a young girl who may or may not be his daughter.
Tom Cruise doesn’t do sequels. With the exception of dangling off the side of something tall in all of the Mission: Impossible movies, we rarely see Cruise step back into a role for a second go around. He has broken that rule to return to the bone-crunching world of the drifter Jack Reacher, in the ironically subtitled sequel Never Go Back. Based on author Lee Child’s 18th Reacher novel, it adds a different wrinkle to the Reacher character, as well as a fair amount of action. Unfortunately, that’s just about all it has going for it.
Reacher (Cruise) decides to travel to his own military headquarters to meet Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who is occupying his old post. He finds that she has been arrested under espionage charges and has been incriminated in the killings of two soldiers in Afghanistan. Reacher does not believe that she is guilty and promptly busts her out of prison and heads out on the run. Meanwhile, the forces conspiring against Turner have become aware of a young girl named Samantha (Danika Yarosh), who may or may not be Reacher’s biological daughter.
The issue with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is not that it’s a particularly terrible movie; it’s just that it’s an incredibly generic example of the modern blockbuster action movie. Almost every beat is nicked from other films, most notably the Bourne-inspired fight scenes. In a year that has already produced a very good Bourne movie, no one was asking for another one – particularly one with a dull plot and a real lack of directorial finesse from blunt instrument Edward Zwick.
Tom Cruise makes for an entertaining enough action lead, defying those who are offended by the ways in which he differs physically from the Reacher described in the books. He might not get chance to do as many death-defying stunts in Never Go Back as he does in his other franchise, but he brings a real fizz and energy to the film, which is largely absent from the rather pedestrian plot and lifeless villains. The central conspiracy story is hopelessly generic and utterly lacking in any sense of intrigue, limping to a conclusion that is arguably unexpected but is also unexciting.
Cobie Smulders makes for a worthy addition to the cast as a female character more than capable of holding her own in a fight. Danika Yarosh, too, is good value as the youngster who completes their incredibly odd group on the run, even if she seems to disappear from the film conveniently whenever the narrative needs her to be out of the way to allow action to take place.
The first Jack Reacher movie may have fired the starting gun on a new thriller franchise, but Never Go Back takes that gun and shoots itself in the foot with it. This is a story that has no forward thrust and doesn’t do enough with its intriguing central character dynamic to add the necessary depth to the lead character.We leave this film knowing nothing about any of the characters, which would be enough were it not for the desperate unoriginality of what turns out to be just another spy story.
Pop or Poop?
It’s a shame that Jack Reacher: Never Go Back doesn’t work, as it possesses many of the tools necessary to put together a compelling action movie. For all of the weaponry and crunching brutality, there isn’t nearly enough heart or character to make any of the blows matter.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.