Jack Reacher: Never Go Back: Film Review
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Robert Knepper
Director: Edward Zwick
Once again dialling down his mega-watt smile to get into the clothes of the cinematic equivalent of The Littlest Hobo, Tom Cruise returns as Jack Reacher.
(Much to the annoyance of many who still believe he has neither the height nor the gravitas to fill the boots of their beloved Lee Child hero).
This time around, in the adaptation of the eighteenth book in the Reacher series from way back in 2003, Reacher's plunged deep into a major conspiracy when he tries to help out Army major Susan Turner (Avengers star Cobie Smulders) in charge of Reacher's old investigative unit.
Accused of treason, Turner's in the firing line and Reacher, out of a sense of duty and obligation from when the Major helped him with cases as he drifted from one to the next, busts her out of jail. But the pair soon find themselves on the run with the need to clear both their names.
However, Reacher's not only on the run from shadowy forces, but also having to face up to the fact he could be a father with news a former squeeze's filed a paternity claim with the army....
Rote, formulaic and flat, despite some occasional tautness of execution, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is as predictable a chase conspiracy movie as ever you'd expect.
A sinewy Cruise may do the action thing reasonably well, but Jack Reacher: Never Go Back never really starts firing at all as its pulpy and dull perfunctory execution plays out. It's part in fact due to its source material and the lumpen and leaden necessary exposition that needs to be dumped to keep things moving along; but with much of the main plot feeling relatively underdeveloped, it feels more like padding as we race from one action sequence to the next.
Saddling Reacher with a conundrum of is it or is it not his kid while Cruise flexes his jawbones and grits his teeth in a demonstration of his intensity doesn't cut it either.
Cobie Smulders doesn't fare well either - going from hard ass action gal to cuckold within the space of moments as the potential love interest is teased out into this nuclear family. It's intensely irritating as the surrogate dad and ultimate bonding storyline plays out - with the kid looking like a young Anna Paquin more and more as the film goes on. And it's barely worth mentioning that there's a distinct lack of chemistry between Smulders and Cruise when it really needs to count.
Missing this time around is a Werner Herzog style baddie to inject some oomph into proceedings - and while Prison Break's Robert Knepper once again rolls out his southern drawl with a side of menace, he's hardly in the film and barely registers - this Reacher is not about the conspiracy and is more about the idea of a drifter being saddled with a family (complete with gloopily sentimental ending) and flounders as a result.
This is a story where convenient things happen because the narrative conveniently demands them and demands nothing from its audience to join the dots.
Ultimately, utterly disposable and instantly forgettable, this formulaic blockbuster lacks the killer thrills and the smarter plot to propel it along with the energy it needs; in fact, Never Go Back proves to be a prophetic title for this Reacher outing.