JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK

I love Tom Cruise. I think he’s an absolute crazy person, but as an actor and movie star, he’s always a treat to watch. Sure, he may be somewhat typecast as “Tom Cruise action man”, but the guy oozes so much charisma and charm, you can’t take your eyes off him. “Maybe I’ll rip your arm off and beat you to death with it,” is the line of dialogue from Tom Cruise that immediately sold me on Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. I enjoyed the first film enough, but wasn’t really thirsty for anymore adventures. However, this new apparent tongue in cheek tone with Cruise now spouting witty one-liners and comically sucker punching various thugs had me on board. Imagine my disappointment when that wonderful line of dialogue, and nothing else nowhere near as awesome, was not in the final film.

In Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, U.S. Army Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is arrested and finds herself under investigation for espionage and the murder of two soldiers. Lucky for her, old friend Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is quick to assist, but when he intervenes, things start to get hairy. They soon find themselves running cross country with the military police on their tail, in order to hopefully prove Turner’s innocence and catch the real culprit.

The first Jack Reacher film caught me and lot of other people by surprise. It was an impressively made, gritty detective thriller with really tense direction and some fantastically staged and choreographed action sequences. It wasn’t your typical Tom Cruise vehicle. It felt somewhat fresh and unique. In stark contrast, everything in this new installment just screams generic. From the fill in the blank writing, to the uninspired directing, all I got was complete, unadulterated boredom. We hit all of the generic action movie beats here, folks. An estranged daughter character suddenly introduced in a poor attempt to add some stakes? Check. A boring, faceless hitman who stalks our protagonists throughout? Check. Your typical fugitive film tropes, such as traversing the whole country, using fake identities, and avoiding cell phone usage? Check, check, and check. The entire affair just reeks of laziness. The film would rather have some nobody tell us that Jack Reacher just took down five guys with his bare hands instead of actually, you know, showing it. It’s been theorized that Cruise just uses action movies as a vessel in order to serve his adrenaline junkie needs. Strange that this is so light in the creative stunts and action departments then. There’s a somewhat exciting and brutal final fight, but everything else felt like he was just killing time until Mission: Impossible: 6, where the real cool stuff will happen.

There’s simply no excitement to be had here. The plot is so thin, only used as a justification to get from one bland action scene to the next. There’s no grace, or style to the action. Just point, shoot, and hope the explosion gets in frame. From the opening sequence, I could tell I was in for a bad time, as the writing to put Reacher into these situations and horribly contrived. It was all them just trying to make him seem really suave and cool, while offering no actual logic behind it. Cruise does his best to interject all of the charisma he can into the lifeless script, but even he seems bored at times. Cobie Smulders was actually very good as the framed soldier on the run, giving a very a strong and convincing performance. Aside from one absolutely awful monologue scene, her scenes with Cruise were the best in the film. On the complete opposite side of that spectrum, Danika Yarosh, who plays Reacher’s daughter, gave one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a big budget film all year. She isn’t well assisted by the atrocious dialogue and writing that has her character make the most idiotic decisions, but her stilted delivery and erratic facial expressions made me cringe at pretty much every moment she was on screen. It’s even worse that she’s used as the dramatic core of the film. Not only is this all inert in the action department, but in the drama department as well. The worst of both worlds.

There’s not really much one needs to expect from a Tom Cruise flick. He’s probably the most consistent action movie star out there, quality wise. All I really expect is Tom Cruise beating people to a pulp while doing crazy stunts, saying clever one liners, all to a story that actually has some emotional heft. Cruise has a knack for picking very good projects to star in. He was even one of the producers on this, so it’s shocking to see him star in something so far below his standard. I’m not going to try to make any lame puns about “never going to back” to Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. The movie just sucks.

3.5/10

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