IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 116 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Hitting the road again after cleaning up a sex trafficking ring, Jack Reacher, a former US Army Major who quit at age 36 and who now roams the United States taking odd jobs and investigating suspicious and frequently dangerous situations, decides to pay a visit to his current “inside” military contact, Major Susan Turner, whom he’s never actually met. However, he finds somebody else in her office and is told that Susan has been thrown in prision for espionage. When he asks a few too many questions, he finds himself in the same situation but breaks out bringing Susan with him….which only makes things worse. He’s framed for murder, is being tracked by assassins and has to go on the run, all the while trying to figure out why this is happening. Oh, and he might have a 15-year old daughter….
There are some moments of considerable stupidity in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Its hero boards a plane with a stolen ID that looks nothing like him, and all he has to do is shrug at the person checking the tickets. He hides from a bad guy behind some shelves in a kitchen and we can easily make him out but the obviously blind villain can’t see him at all. He and the heroine are fleeing the police in a food truck which is stopped and surrounded by more police, then are suddenly seen driving off in a police car despite there being no possible way that they could’ve got out of that truck and into the car without a policeman seeing them. However, if you can overlook stuff like this, the second Jack Reacher adventure is better than the first, which is a film I could remember so little of that I had to read my old review of it plus the synopsis on Wikipedia to refresh my memory. It wasn’t a bad film but felt rather half-hearted as it tried to be an action movie and a more talky, plot heavy mystery at the same time, while Tom Cruise really was on autopilot. The star seems more focused this time, while this film is more of a straight actioner with a touch of family drama. The latter element is probably something that many will feel is forced but I feel it adds some emotion to what would be otherwise be not much different to your average Liam Neeson or even Steven Segal [when he was in shape] effort. If I feel genuinely touched at the end of a movie, than that side of it has worked, and it worked for me. Little Danika Yarosh manages to be precocious and still be cute, though Cruise and Cobie Smulders have no chemistry whatsoever.
Smulders can, though, kick arse as well as Cruise in this film, which is saying something as the 54 year old star remains convincing as he beats up people every twenty minutes or so, breaking limbs and necks in a film which, even coming after The Magnificent Seven, is ridiculously vicious for a 12A certificate and proves that the BBFC have well and truly lost their mind [and I remember the days when I would find them absurdly strict]. The fights, the last of which is quite interesting as it’s primarily fuelled by exhaustion, are very impressive though and well handled by director Edward Zwick [though this film isn’t anyway near as good as his previous collaboration with Cruise], working with Bourne cinematographer Oliver Wood so there’s a bit of ‘shakycam’ but not enough to make you feel sick or unable to see what’s happening [are you reading this Ron Howard?], and the climax during a New Orleans Halloween festival is as exciting as you would want it to be. On the other hand most of the story beats can be predicted with ease and as I’ve already said you have to put up with a really dumb bit every now and again….but Jack Reacher: Never Go Back certainly entertained me with its unpretentious, back to basics old school approach and, unlike before, I’d like to see Mr Reacher, who’s now a more interesting character, again.