Too-short Cruise does the running-jumping-shooting-punching thing, this time ripping off Taken right down to a version of that phone speech to the principle bad guy. It’s a polished version of the middle-aged-guy-with-skills-and-guns alright, but it’s no more than that. Never Go Back? Only if there’s a big franchise pay-check.
Charismatic, but increasingly asexual, Tom Cruise is now such a big movie star that every project he takes on becomes a Tom Cruise vanity project; look how Tom can run, jump, shoot, punch. And how much he now looks like a waxwork of himself.
Ex-military investigator Reacher drifts from case to case and positively trips over this one. His army successor, Major Turner (Coby Smulders – Avengers – holding the screen rather well) has been falsely accused on treason charges. Add in the revelation of a tearaway teen daughter he didn’t know about (an excellent Danika Yarosh), with the bad guys on their tail, there’s a military conspiracy to uncover.
It’s an oddly inert assemblage of the usual action-thriller parts that we’ve seen a dozen times before, from Bond to Bourne to Taken to Equaliser, to Cruise himself in Mission Improbable. Cruise has no chemistry with co-star Smulders or the teenage daughter – although you can see him acting his socks off trying to make it happen, just like in War of the Worlds.
Never Go Back crow-bars in that thing he did in Last Samaurai taking on the five or six guys at once in a one-shot fight sequence, and the final show-down on New Orleans roof-top is a bone-crunching highlight, played out predictably, according to that phone conversation earlier in Act Two.
Patrick Heusinger is an outstanding stone-killer as Reacher’s nemesis, but the rest of the cast is forgettable, just doing what they do. It lacks a Werner Herzog or Robert Duvall from the previous Reacher to give it class; instead we get a cameo of TV rent-a-villain Robert Knepper from Stargate Universe et al.
Safe-hands director Edward Zwick executes a tight action ride but shares the blame for a derivative pudding of a script with little to lift it out of the glut of action movies. But we know everyone will get work again since it made a ton of money.
Source author Lee Childs (with his own cameo) did a diplomatic job promoting Cruise as an acceptable movie version of Texan man-mountain Reacher, but clearly doesn’t believe this is the definitive Reacher. And nor do we. Call it what you want, it’s the usual by-the-numbers Tom Cruise show where he over-compensates for middle-age and who knows what else with all the running, jumping, shooting and punching. Next up, Jim Broadbent reboots Conan the Barbarian… RC
Jack Reacher – Never Go Back (2016)
Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Richard Wenk
Genre: Action, Adventure
Running time: 118 minutes
Cast: Tom Cruise, Coby Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Robert Knepper