Tom Cruise reprises his role in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back as a reluctant ex-military officer thrust into a world of government conspiracies… Yawn.
After various friendly phone calls to one another, Reacher (Tom Cruise) decides to set up a meeting with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders). When he arrives, he finds that Turner has been sent to military prison, forcing him to get to the bottom of case and clear her name. From here Reacher finds himself hunted down and embroiled in a world of conspiracies, all while trying to survive the onslaught of henchmen that are after him, and protect Turner and what may potentially be his long-lost daughter Samantha (Danika Yarosh).
It’s an unnecessarily convoluted plot and one that doesn’t offer anything new to the genre. Director Edward Zwick attempts to bring together several plot points, slowly uncovering a piece of the puzzle as the movie progresses, however no revelation is in any way impactful. Reacher is never in any real danger and there is no true villain to form a counterweight. Aside from his main mission to clear Turner’s name, the addition of the long-lost daughter angle felt tacked on and not that relevant.
The film’s biggest fault however is it’s just so corny. It’s full of so many convenient moments and cheesy dialogue that will have you rolling your eyes multiple times. Normally it’s fine when a film embraces the cheese-factor and rolls with it, which essentially gives it a particular style. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back does not embrace this and is a bit too serious. It’s this striking lack of balance which is a hindrance to the final product, a film that you just can’t take seriously, even though it tries so hard to get you to.
The performances are okay across the board, but with the talent available, it’s a shame the writing suffered so badly. Had the filmmakers decided to go all the way with the cheese-factor, or go completely serious, it surely would’ve helped the actors bring the most out of their characters. For instance, Reacher has a deep intensity which Tom Cruise can easily handle, though the script lacked the tension needed for him to really show it.
But let’s be realistic. We watch a Jack Reacher film for the action. Sure it misses the mark on the story front, and while the first Jack Reacher film wasn’t too far off in that regard, it still felt fresh and new, and the mystery elements were handled a lot better in that film (the sequel lacks intrigue, which is essential for a film like this). Back to the action – it’s definitely a standout feature of the film, but again it doesn’t push any boundaries. Expect a lot of running (standard for a Tom Cruise film), shooting and underwhelming fist fights.
One thing that worked in the film’s favour was its style. The film’s editing is reminiscent to that of classic 90’s action films. The best thing about those movies were that they didn’t take themselves seriously, making them fun. If only Jack Reacher: Never Go Back had mimicked more aspects of those films, we may have gotten a very different, but better film.
In the Lee Child classic book series, Jack Reacher is 6’5″ tall and 230-250 lbs. Tom Cruise is 5’7″ and less than 200 lbs.