Jack Reacher: Never Go Back may be based on a book by the best-selling author Lee Childs, but the film itself feels like it has been adapted by the author of ‘The Big Book of Movie Clichés’. This sequel to the 2012 franchise-starter seems happy enough going through the motions, featuring henchman who are easily identifiable by their clothes and haircuts – an observation the titular hero makes himself during the film – cringe-inducing dialogue such as “I need this information, and I need it yesterday”, and predictable plot points such as a (potential) young daughter who is in need of rescuing come the film’s finale. It does nothing different, new, or creative, and the result is a distinctly average thriller that feels like it better belongs on the television.
When compared to Tom Cruise’s other franchise, the Mission: Impossible series, this lacks the death-defying stunts and fun of those ever-increasingly silly spy films. Attempts to replicate a similar kind of energy are made though, with Cruise and his co-star, Cobie Smulders, constantly running from scene to scene as if they’ve run into a weird remake of Chariots of Fire. It’s exhausting to watch, even more so when the pair’s running never gets them any further in terms of narrative , with these marathons often being sandwiched between two extraordinarily dull fight sequences.
The action does begin to improve toward the film’s finale, as the ante is considerably upped and the violence becomes even more brutal. But as exciting as the film’s final twenty-minutes might be, it still isn’t quite enough to justify sitting through the previous hour-and-a-half of lacklustre set pieces and cheesy writing. Even Tom Cruise, an actor who has never felt particularly comfortable in the role of Reacher, seems like he’d rather be doing something else. His usual charm and glint in the eye all but disappeared, this is his worst film in quite sometime. Perhaps he should take a page out of Reacher’s book and ‘never go back’ to this insipid franchise.
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