Jack Reacher: Never Go Back review – a great film dedicated to old school, practical action

by | 20 Oct 2016 | Film Reviews

Tom Cruise returns in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, based on the novel of the same name by Lee Child, and the follow up to 2012’s Jack Reacher. Edward Zwick, taking over directing duties from Christopher McQuarrie, shows he can tackle a straight up action film as well as the dramatic, for which he’s more known for, and create a fun and entertaining movie.

As with the previous instalment, the story centres on Cruise’s Reacher as he’s drawn back into the military when colleague Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is framed for treason and sent to a military prison. Reacher, not one for following the rules, breaks her out and they go on the run looking for the people who set her up and clear both their names. Also along for the ride, to keep the personal stakes high, is Danika Yarosh’s Samantha, who may or may not be Reacher’s daughter.

Although the plot might not be that original for this kind of film and hit very familiar narrative beats, Zwick directs with such confidence, keeping the pace at a breakneck speed and infusing a lot of energy, you’ll hardly notice. Zwick knows what kind of film he’s making: a typical, good old fashioned popcorn movie designed to thrill and entertain, no more and no less.

It’s not meant to have some deep theme running throughout or a dense and thought provoking narrative that questions your ideals (not unlike he’s last collaboration with Cruise in The Last Samurai). It’s meant to be a movie you can go into, and for a couple of hours, switch your brain off and have some fun, which is exactly what it does.

Keeping with that tone, Zwick also injects a fair amount of humour, despite the high threat scenario. Zwick skilfully keeps that tone balanced well, and it actually works for the film and mostly comes from the various character dynamics of Cruise, Smulders and Yarosh who, while on the run, form into a kind of dysfunctional family.

Despite the shared screen time between these three, this is clearly a Tom Cruise film, and he certainly owns it. He oozes charisma and shows why he’s such a big movie star as he falls back into that role so easily. Even though some purists might grumble he doesn’t fit the description from Lee’s books, he makes it his own and catches the spirit of the character so well.

He also still makes for a convincing action star as he kicks some serious butt throughout the runtime, made even more impressive by Cruise’s reputation for performing all his own stunts. Smulders’ Major Turner is also a great addition, and she easily holds her own alongside Cruise and gets to equally show off her action chops, putting that training from the Marvel universe to good use.

Yarosh’s Sam does her best alongside her more experienced co-stars but unfortunately, can’t shake off the fact that she’s there more as a plot device and feels very much like an archetype of that sort of angst ridden, streetwise teenager, and struggles to rise above her thinly sketched character. The main villain, in the form of Patrick Heusinger’s Hunter, proves a great foil and mirrors an opposite side to Reacher, giving us a glimpse of what he could easily become one wrong turn down the road.

In terms of action, Zwick crafts and directs some exhilarating and suspenseful set pieces. Also, it’s proper old-school action and kept very practical, which makes for a refreshing change when compared to the large sum of CGI fests we’re bombarded with now days. Plus, it wouldn’t be a Tom Cruise movie without him doing what he does best: running, as he runs from one scene to the next barely slowing down to a brisk walk. It’s what we’ve come to expect from him, and as always he delivers.

‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a fun and entertaining film, which does what it says on the tin.’

Despite a story which is something to be desired, with Cruise’s star power, a solid partner in Smulders, some well-crafted action scenes and a small dose of humour this sequel is elevated above its formulaic premise and should be an entertaining experience for all.

David Axcell

Film Critic

David has quite a broad taste in film which includes big budget blockbusters and small indie films; including International and Arthouse cinema. As long as it’s good in that particular genre, he’ll watch anything.

This article is copyright owned by Keltar Limited. All rights reserved.

Plagiarism or unauthorised copying is not permitted.

All other copyrights remain the property of their respective owners.