Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.
Director: Edward Zwick
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge, Holt McCallany, Austin Hebert,
Rated: PG-13 (sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
By Cole Schneider
The Tom Cruise movie you’re most likely to forget about has somehow spawned a sequel. In Reacher’s second adventure he and the Major now running his old unit have been framed in a conspiracy they must uncover. Meanwhile Reacher is informed that he may have a daughter, making their duo a trio.
“Jack Reacher” was a decent enough action-thriller with a dash of comedy. It successfully diverted its audience for a couple hours even if there wasn’t anything there sticky enough to truly care about. However, everything that elevated that 2012 film above its otherwise banal formula is thrown aside in “Never Go Back”, settling instead for the more straightforward, generic, boring Hollywood thriller formula. “Jack Reacher” had fun dialogue, an interesting and small story, and a consistent—if bland—main character. “Never Go Back” has dreadful dialogue, which sometimes feels like a parity of 80s action films; it has a story caught in between the more intimate story of the original and the sprawling, global stories of the similar “Mission Impossible” franchise; and it features a lead character who doubles down on his one-dimensionality while violating so much of what the first film worked to establish about his character.
“Never Go Back” isn’t vacant, but even where it succeeds it doesn’t hold up. The final chase scene is set in a wonderful Halloween parade in New Orleans, but as the scene plays out it just gets dumber and dumber. The cast is mostly strong—particularly Cobie Smulders playing Reacher’s partner/thorn-in-the-side—but the cast can’t compare to 2012’s all-star team. Still, the single unforgivable sin at the center of the film is that there’s simply no personality to be found.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
By Matt Greene
With goofy hero quips, an awesome Werner Herzog villain, and quick hand-to-hand combat, 2012’s Jack Reacher was a surprisingly diverting (if largely unnecessary) little holdover while we waited for the next Mission:Impossible movie. Never Go Back doesn’t even quite reach that low bar.
Where the first let Cruise be a no-nonsense vigilante with an 80s-esque action-star flair, this one shackles him to bad dramatics and dull posturing. In line with many of this year’s other action sequels (Jason Bourne, Independence Day, Ninja Turtles, etc), JR:NGB is a generic disappointment with multiple problems.
For one thing, it replaces its entertainingly corny action/comedy with eye-rollingly corny drama. The charm of the Reacher character was his lone-wolf modus operandi. Now the normally magnetic Cruise is saddled with two ill-advised sidekicks: a high ranking military official (played by the tough but wasted Smulders) and a precocious 15-year-old girl. Noble in its intentions to expand its diversity, it fails in the execution at every turn. The only way these cast additions might actually work is if you watched the first and thought, “What action movies really need are annoyingly bratty teenagers & sexist relationship banter!”
Are there moments of fun that holdover from the original? Sure; Reacher uses nice sarcasm at times, and there’s a Halloween parade setting that makes for an exciting setpiece. Otherwise, it’s standard action movie trope after standard action movie trope (jittery black-and-white visions, gun fights in abandoned buildings, chases at shipping wharfs). Shockingly lacking in tangible levity or legitimate popcorn entertainment, Cruise should’ve never gone back to the Jack Reacher franchise if this is the best they could do.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars