'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back' review: Don't go back for this Tom Cruise sequel
The first Jack Reacher movie was an odd one – it was based on a popular series of books but the iconic character’s hulking physical traits were replaced by the small-scale charms of Tom Cruise in the title role.
Purist fans of the books never really took to the film but those unfamiliar with the source material went with the ride and enjoyed Cruise beat up people. It was a B-movie and a passably fun one, if you took it for what it was and enjoyed seeing Werner Herzog staring angrily.
What the first film was not, was a franchise starter, that is no one really clamored for a second film. Not only did the filmmakers fail to make Reacher’s character very memorable but they also did not set up a universe like John Wick where some really cool action set pieces could be engineered.
So Jack Reacher Never go Back needed to justify the existence of a sequel, and in the hands of director Edward Zwick it seemed like an interesting prospect. Unfortunately the film is a generic B-movie, without much charm or grace, or even a story that you will find fascinating. The easiest thing to say about this film is to take a dig at its name ‘Never Go Back’, but it really is a reminder for audiences to not trust in cash grab sequels.
The film picks up four years after the events of the first one and immediately makes the first of its many mistakes. In the previous movie Reacher’s character is established as one who is completely off the grid and will never return to civilization, and this film immediately offers the opposite scenario. Reacher goes back to his military organization, that too for a date with Major Turner (Colbie Smulders).
This is the point where the story shifts from ludicrous to generic as Reacher discovers his date has been double crossed and gets involved with obviously bad military guys, an illegal arms operations conspiracy, and a hilariously generic assassin generically named Hunter. What is more funny is that he’s played by Patrick Huesinger who is recognizable for playing an investment banker in Frances Ha, so an action oriented threat coming from him is a bit of a stretch.
Adding to the generic layer is the presence of Reacher’s supposed daughter (Danika Yarosh) who, apart from being endlessly irritating constantly serves as the person that Reacher has to protect from all kinds of bad guys.
But the biggest problem isn’t even the over familiar story, but the fact that the action sequences are dull and uninspiring. You get into this movie to watch some fun pulpy thrills, but director Zwick executes them in a numbingly straightforward manner. It shows that despite his illustrious career in dramas (including last year’s Pawn Sacrifice) he has absolutely no chops for pulp action.
There are some attempts at violent hand to hand combat scenes but they matter so little because you don’t give a damn about any of the stock goons being beaten or even Reacher in general – because you know he’s not really going to die in the film. Forget this one and pop in the DVD of John Wick again. The sequel to that movie is the one to watch out for.