Jack Reacher was a decent action thriller that was meant to kickstart a franchise for Paramount and it’s star Tom Cruise. The film made some money, but not an amount that would immediately green light a sequel on the production fast track. The sequel plans took a little longer than expected, but after a four-year hiatus the ex military problem solver has returned in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. An ironic name for a follow-up considering many people deemed this sequel unnecessary especially in a year where cases of sequelitis have been on the rise with films like Independence Day: Resurgence, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back may not have been a sequel audiences were clamoring to see, but Cruise and his Director pal Edward Zwick actually improves on the previous installment by humanizing the no-nonsense former Military Policeman Jack Reacher this go around. That doesn’t mean the retired Major turned helpful and resourceful drifter doesn’t dispatch his form of physical justice on criminal conspiracies within our own government. In the beginning of Never Go Back, we find Reacher surrounded by broken bodies after solving another case. This leads to Reacher attempting to meet another Military investigator named Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) only to find out she has been charged with Espionage. Before you know it, Reacher has charges brought against him leading to his arrest. As you can imagine, the cage can’t hold Reacher and chaos ensues as the mystery is unraveled.
There’s plenty of action in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, but just don’t expect any of the sequences to be groundbreaking or fresh. Reacher is forced to hit the road with Susan who turns out to be good partner for Jack to kick butt with thanks to Smulders ability to throw a few punches courtesy of her Marvel Background. Besides the nice chemistry Cruise shares with Smulders, Danika Yarosh is along for the ride as teenage Samantha who may or may not have a personal connection with Reacher. This element adds something we didn’t see from Reacher the last go around as we get to see the heroic drifter’s emotional side and not just a blunt former Major who has no time for personal drama.
The angle between Jack, Susan and Samantha may seem like ‘Reacher Family Vacation’ with the three bickering at each other like they’re going to Walley World instead of overthrowing high-ranking government officials, but it works and keeps the material fresh without getting too silly. The decision by Zwick and Cruise to peel back some of the layers on Reacher’s personality makes him less of a robotic enforcer and more of a real person dealing with his own issues. It’s nice to see Reacher show his soft side in between taking out bad guys with a salt shaker. There’s definitely a noticeable difference in quality with Zwick sitting in the Director’s chair and Cruise shows he can bring more to this mysterious figure then expected from the one-dimensional character we saw in the first film. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back has its moments, even if this franchise is forgettable in the long run.
Overall, I give Jack Reacher: Never Go Back 2.75 out of 4 stars.
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