Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.
The first ‘Jack Reacher’ film was a nice surprise when it came out a few years ago, a solid action movie with a good villain (Werner Herzog, no less!) and it felt like a welcome throwback to the good action movies of the late 80s and early 90s. The sequel, ‘Never Go Back’, also feels like a throwback to the action movies of the early 90s, but in this case it’s the bad ones, the direct to DVD movies that were made ten a penny featuring the likes of Steven Seagal. ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’ is a misfire in just about every way, from a dull narrative about some evil corporation doing some arms smuggling or something similar that’s barely explained, to a cast that look bored and uninterested throughout. A sequel to the first film was a pleasant surprise, but I can’t imagine many people clamouring for more after this dull effort.
Tom Cruise is usually a pretty reliable performer, even in some of his weaker roles of late, but even he looks bored, struggling to bring a one note character to life. In the first film he had charismatic actors to bounce off but the sequel is severely limited in that regard, with Cobie Smulders the only other cast member of note and she’s given even less to do than Cruise. In fact, there’s no chemistry between Cruise and Smulders and the writers seem to give up trying to develop any about half way through the film. The inane plot doesn’t require much explaining but mainly surrounds Reacher getting involved in the case of a wrongly imprisoned army major (Smulders) and ending up on the run whilst trying to get to the bottom of the ‘conspiracy’. Along the way he fights numerous men hired to kill him, with the film one of the worst in recent memory for characters conveniently not having a gun available at the crucial moments. There’s also an annoying teenager thrown in for good measure, as if the film wasn’t struggling enough.
I mentioned that the film reminded me of cheap action movies from the 90s and this would kind of be OK if that’s all it was (there’s a certain charm in even some of Seagal’s worst efforts), but this film cost $60m dollars and it barely looks like it cost $2m. The locations are dull, mostly drab warehouses or alleyways, primarily in darkness, and it just looks really, really cheap. I’d love to see the breakdown of where the budget was spent on this. The first film had Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins, Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo alongside Werner Herzog to lend support, whereas this film casts a series of generic goons who are boring and expendable. Hell, even Jai Courtney, who was very good in the first film, would have been welcome here. It does have the terrific and charismatically sleazy Robert Knepper, but he’s off screen for most of the film and only interacts with Cruise once – he is an actor I’d love to see cast in more things though.
‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’ is a cheesy action movie that takes itself more seriously than it should, and it’s a disappointing sequel to the hugely enjoyable first film and it’s definitely not worth wasting 2 hours of your time on.
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Patrick Heusinger, Danika Yarosh, Holt McCallany, Austin Hebert, Robert Catrini and Robert Knepper