In 2012, Tom Cruise gave audiences their first taste of Lee Child’s popular book character, Jack Reacher. Jack Reacher was and is an action filled romp that harkens back to 80’s action adventure films that relied on bigger than life characters doing unbelievable feats to thwart the forces of evil. Now, Jack is back and ready to help those that can’t help themselves.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is Tom Cruise’s return to the former Military Police Officer turned drifter, Jack Reacher. This time Jack is returning to his old military HQ to meet up with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders). It turns out that Turner has been implicated in the murders of two soldiers in Afghanistan and espionage. Jack doesn’t believe the charges against Turner. Reacher is also informed that someone from his past has filed a paternity suit against him claiming that he has a 15 year old daughter. Reacher and Turner set off a two prong adventure to clear Major Turner’s name and to find out who Reacher’s daughter is and why now.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a definite step down from the original, but that should not deter you from enjoying this Saturday afternoon matinee action extravaganza. This Reacher sequel is lite on story and heavy on action cliches and strongman dialogue. When you hear lines like, “something doesn’t add up” or “two things are going to happen in the next 90 seconds”, you know this may not be high art, but it’s certainly going to be quite the ride. Tom Cruise plays Reacher as a complete jerk know it all that condescends to those that are around him and yet you feel as if Reacher is the man with plan. Cobie Smulders as Major Turner does a good turn as Reacher’s sidekick that he doesn’t want or need. Smulders is famous for her TV role in “How I Met Your Mother”, she does have a tendency to lean on some of the sitcom acting tropes, but she is a serviceable sidekick even if they have no chemistry on screen. Danika Yarosh joins the cast as Samantha Dayton, Reacher’s supposed daughter he never knew about. When Yarosh makes her first appearance on screen she’s grating on the nerves and her acting is sub-par on best, but as the movie goes along she improves and you start to enjoy her performance with the main cast. The villains of the piece are more or less faceless, but Patrick Heusinger as someone just known as “The Hunter” is a good foil for Reacher’s superhero antics. He matches Reacher stride for stride, punch for punch and shot for shot. Both performances are outlandish, but in a way you can’t help but be amused and delight in the ridiculous back and forth between Reacher and The Hunter.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a sequel that no one asked for, but four years on Reacher still has some legs. This is Tom Cruise’s best attempt at B-movie cinema. That sounds like a negative strike against the film, but it’s more like a badge of honor. This movie is slathered in as much cheese as the nachos at the concession stand, but Jack Reacher certainly goes down much easier. It’s nice to see Cruise hamming it up while playing Reacher, his passion to entertain drips from this series as it does with his “Mission: Impossible films. These two series may not be in the same league as far as scope and execution, but Jack Reacher maybe another series impossible to resist. This Reacher sequel, while flawed, still manages to be a good way to spend an afternoon at the movies.