Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

 

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It's back-to-basics for Tom Cruise – and a lot of running – in this formulaic sequel.

 

Jack Reacher Never Go Back
 

Perhaps Tom Cruise should have heeded the sentiment of the title of his new film: never go back. The first Jack Reacher instalment, cannily titled Jack Reacher, was a thing of beauty: a meticulously tooled thriller that played on the mythos of its eponymous hero, a former military cop who emerges out of the shadows to see justice done. One never saw him coming: he just happened to always be in the right place. Here, that gift is bestowed on a nameless assassin (Patrick Heusinger) who invariably seems to be one step ahead of Reacher in a familiar plot involving trumped-up charges, corrupt officials and decommissioned munitions. Of course, Reacher can always look after himself but there’s a chink in his armour: a 15-year-old girl (Danika Yarosh) whose mother claims Reacher is the father.

 

Edward Zwick, who previously directed Cruise in The Last Samurai (2003), is an efficient filmmaker and he keeps the plates spinning in an agreeable fashion. But the material he has been handed – from a script he co-wrote with Richard Wenk and Marshall Herskovitz from Lee Child’s novel – is painfully formulaic. While the proceedings are refreshingly old-school – there’s an awful lot of running down streets, across traffic and over rooftops – the rest is old hat. In the hope of consummating a telephonic flirtation with a Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), Reacher is appalled to find that she’s been locked up on espionage charges. And even without knowing what a tall glass of water she happens to be, Reacher smells a rat. As a blind date, it provides more adrenalin than your usual night of passion and with a rebellious teenage girl thrown into the mix, it proves to be quite a tryst.

 

Jack Reacher remains an engrossing protagonist – he’s really good at filtering peripheral information and repackaging it as vital data – but Cruise seems a tad more wooden than he did the first time round. Cobie Smulders lends decent support as his smart, high-kicking cohort and Danika Yarosh (think of a teenage Patricia Arquette) is not bad as the thorn in their romantic side. But the maxed-up fisticuffs and familiar action scenarios (there’s even a chase through a parade in New Orleans’ French Quarter) reduces the material to the decidedly routine.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, Austin Hebert, Robert Catrini, Robert Knepper, Teri Wyble.

 

Dir Edward Zwick, Pro Tom Cruise, Don Granger and Christopher McQuarrie, Screenplay Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, from the novel Never Go Back by Lee Child, Ph Oliver Wood, Pro Des Clay A. Griffith, Ed Billy Weber, Music Henry Jackman, Costumes Liksa Lovaas.

 

Skydance Media/TC Productions-Paramount Pictures.

117 mins. USA/China. 2016. Rel: 20 October 2016. Cert. 12A.