Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (M)
Rate: 2.5 / 5
You’ve got to give it to Tom Cruise. Not only is he still able to carry a movie franchise, he does so while starting to look every inch of his 54 years. And that, folks, is a very rare thing in Hollywood.
Cruise reprises his role as former army major turned private eye Jack Reacher in in the second Jack Reacher instalment Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
They are based on the books by British writer Lee Child, in which the titular character roams across the US as a gun for hire while investigating spurious and often dangerous situations.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opens with one such a situation in which Reacher has been recruited by his former employer, the United States Army Military Police Corps, to track down a people smuggling ring. Mission accomplished and Reacher—who also proves to be something of a lothario—wheedles his way into a ‘date’ with his ‘contact’ Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders).
But when he shows up at the army corps he discovers that Major Turner has been accused of treason and imprisoned. Things don’t add up for Reacher and he hatches a plan to break her out of military prison. Reacher’s hunch is proven correct as the two find themselves the centre of a major government conspiracy that involves the death of US soldiers.
Meanwhile, Reacher learns that he may or may not have a 15-year-old daughter and, for someone who has ostensibly cut himself off from society, this casts a significant emotional shadow over his life.
With Cruise the producer as well as the lead character Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was always going to be something of a vanity project. And yet there’s something else going on here, too. With Cruise often looking battered and bruised (as well as just plain…well…middle-aged) he seems more human than he has in the past.
As Major Turner, Smulders is far from just the love interest (while Reacher and Turner exchange a bit of flirtatious banter their pairing remains chaste…another rare thing in Hollywood), and combines her military fortitude with her considerable kung fu skills. Another strong female is Reacher’s possible daughter Sam (Danika Yanosh) whose experience as a street kid renders her every bit as resourceful as Reacher.
While Edward Zwick’s direction suffers from inconsistency in the early scenes, he hits his stride in the latter action scenes. This is where the trio also shine, especially when being pursued by the ruthless and relentless ‘Hunter’ (Patrick Heusinger).
Jack Reacher might not be Jason Bourne (a reference to the character immortalised by Matt Damon), he does more than a serviceable job of making Jack Reacher both accessible and entertaining.
Highlight: taut action scenes
Red flag: violence, sexual themes