Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) returns to enforce his bold brand of justice in "a fun action-packed ride" based on author Lee Child's best-selling series. When Army Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is framed for treason, Reacher discovers she's the target of a massive government conspiracy. With help from Turner and a mysterious new ally, Reacher risks everything to take down the powerful organisation that will stop at nothing to protect its secrets.
Jack Reacher is an action hero that has the common hero power of stating the actions he will take against his enemies, then carrying them out in that specific order. He tells a cop the phone will ring with the military police to absolve him of being arrested and it happens. He tells a bad guy over the phone he’ll break certain parts of his body and then does just that. I’m pretty sure during the many times he orders food offscreen he specified similar instructions to fast food joints. If only Tom Cruise had this ability to spot a tired action movie script.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (a very fitting title) finds the titular hero, reprised by the action-ready Tom Cruise, wandering America in search of some butts to kick. The opening spends far more time talking about his stellar fighting skills than showing, but I guess you can’t kick butts everyday. Reacher decides to head on over to Washington D.C. to meet with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) who has been helping him solve cases across the country. When he arrives, however, Turner is being accused of murdering soldiers and Reacher is brought in for similar charges. To clear their names, they escape from a high-security government prison and go on the lamb to unravel the mystery behind the murders. And once they do, it’s nothing all that special of a secret operation.
One might think that Reacher and Turner would form a romance over this case, especially given the multiple scenes where they share a hotel room wearing very little. Unfortunately, there is not much chemistry between the two as their dialogue mostly boils down to cold exposition and flat quips. In comes the addition of teenage tagalong Samantha (Danika Yarosh), an airheaded girl who may or may not be Reacher’s daughter. Her purpose is to act as a clueless ditz that keeps the hired goons hot on their trail via her use of cell phones and stolen credit cards. She acts far too casually for a girl that lives a poor life and is constantly shot at by secret agents. Perhaps this is some old writer’s idea of trying to appeal to the youth market, what with their ungrateful attitudes and obsession over texting.
The movie certainly does deliver some well-paced action, but action that requires a heavier suspension of disbelief. Mainly, you have to overlook how most of Reacher’s actions go unnoticed by anyone who isn’t out to kill him. While on a plane to New Orleans, he takes out two goons following him; one in the bathroom and one in his seat. His punches to the face, kicks to the legs and smashing of faces into walls attracts zero attention from the passengers, even after the plane lands and passengers begin disembarking. This same logic must be applied to the sequences of a chase through the streets New Orleans and a fight that breaks out in a D.C. kitchen. Another commentary on how little attention society pays to the world outside their smart phones? Nope, just more silly thriller logic.
Never Go Back is based on one of the many Jack Reacher books that has received much praise, which makes me hope something big was lost in this theatrical adaptation. The dialogue, even with all the silly trimmings of political intrigue and violent insults, is some of the most amateur and atrocious I’ve heard of the genre. Lines such as “I’m the man you didn’t count on” should officially be retired from hero monologues. Show, don’t tell. Show us how effective Jack Reacher is at being a super soldier, don’t spend most of the movie talking about it. Considering how capable Tom Cruise is at skilled action stunts, he seriously shows his age in a picture where the most he’ll do is scale a roof and take a tumble off of it. I know he can do more, both in character and stunts. Leave this forgettable drivel to a lesser actor.