Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back


Tom Cruise reprises his role as the mysterious investigator in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – based on Lee Child’s book series.

Sometime after the events in the first film, Reacher (Tom Cruise) is hitchhiking across the country Bruce Banner style while using his skills to help Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) solve cases. When Reacher arrives back at this old military headquarters, he finds Turner has been arrested for espionage. Suspicious of the charges, Reacher breaks Turner out and learns that members his old unit are being taken out one-by-one.

Reacher and Turner are on the run from military police as they try to uncover who is behind this conspiracy and prove Turner’s innocent.

At this point in the film, Never Go Back is a paint-by-numbers action sequel. There’s a “conspiracy” that’s used as bread crumbs to lead to the inevitable Hitman vs. Reacher showdown, and supply an infinite number of goons to be taken out by Reacher along the way. That’s until the story commits one of the worst cinema sins possible – adding a child to a sequel.

Enter Samantha (Danika Yarosh), a teenage girl who is possibly a child Reacher never knew he had. Apparently, the country’s greatest investigator has no idea if he has a teenage daughter or not. Not only is Reacher dodging trained assassins, he’s on daddy dutie as well. This is the worst child subplot since Superman’s kid in Superman Returns.

Here’s the problem with Samantha – she’s introduced as a smart, crafty teenager. She does one crafty thing and spends the rest of the movie compromising the group and getting kidnapped. She makes witty jokes as if 9MM bullets didn’t just whizz by her head and trained killers aren’t chasing her. This movie must take place in a universe where action thrillers and espionage movies don’t exist. Samantha breaks every spy rule imaginable and can only muster an adolescent shrug as a response to her mistakes.

Samantha is supposed to help humanize Reacher and show he has feelings. Instead, she’s the awkward third wheel on date you’d wish would get the hint and go home.

Cruise and Smulders work well together onscreen. The story could’ve used more of those two battling it out with bad guys and learning to fight as a duo. Instead, the film spends time on The Perks of Being Kidnap Bait aka Samantha and her storyline.

There’s entire villainous arc and a plot involving shipments from overseas that isn’t worth getting into. However, Patrick Heusinger plays The Hunter, the hitman chasing Reacher and Turner. He’s the usual clean-cut hitman who drives a sports car and wears expensive suits. Heusinger plays his hitman as more of a sociopath, with a hint of Terminator, than a skilled gun for hire. Heusinger looks like he’s having a lot of fun playing this role. Every hero needs a formidable opponent and The Hunter is evil and skilled enough to pose as a serious threat for Reacher.

Tom Cruise is still an action star, but Never Go Back fails to deliver any the “wow” moments moviegoers have seen Cruise produce over the years. The badass things Reacher does that make him such a legend, like the opening scene at the diner, are far and few between in this sequel. The plot even borrows from 1985’s Commando airplane scene.

Despite having a teenager weighing down the film, it still manages to be consistently entertaining but never raises to the level of Cruise’s previous action movies. Never Go Back may be the most appropriate title of any 2016 film.

Grade: C