By Christian DiMartino
Never go back? Hey. Don’t tell me what to do.
Contrary to the title, Tom Cruise is BACK as Jack Reacher in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, the sequel to Jack Reacher, for those of us who still remember. That film wasn’t bad, per se, but considering what Cruise is capable of, one would expect something a little better. The same could be said for this film, which is just as good as that one.
I suppose the issue with both films is the fact that they’ve arrived at a time where we’ve seen this stuff before. Take, for example, a climactic battle during a New Orleans Halloween festival. Or a potential daughter character. Or, to be frank, a loose-cannon agent who lives on the edge and doesn’t care about the rules. All of that is present in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. I mean, hell, look at the title. While many flaws plague the film, however, I won’t lie: I kind of liked it. Kind of. Let’s call it something of a guilty pleasure.
Alright, so where to begin? Cruise is back as Reacher, and basically if you enjoy him and his kick-assery (as I do), then the film should be an easy pill to swallow, even if he can do this role in his sleep. Reacher is just kind of doing his own thing, fighting crime and what not (even though he isn’t technically an agent anymore). He’s just kind of a drifter at this point. However, he’s soon pulled back into the game whenever he is told that he has a daughter, Samantha (Danika Yarosh) and he discovers that a friend, Agent Turner (Cobie Smulders), has been imprisoned for espionage.
Reacher, and the viewer, know better than this, because this is an action movie. As we know, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, and he soon begins doing some investigating and what not. But his investigation pulls him in further when he is soon accused of murder. So soon Reacher, Turner, and Samantha (who may or may not be his daughter) are on the run, trying to solve the mystery before it solves them… or something.
Okay so I admit that, here and there, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a little difficult to follow. They just throw so many names out there that not all of them stick. It must also be noted that, as mentioned above, there are cliches galore. But then… then, there’s the performances.
Cruise, who I have given a pass for life due to his Oscar nominated role in Magnolia (c’mon, he should’ve won that s**t. He was amazing), isn’t to blame. He makes this all fun, because Cruise, as he’s shown in recent years, manages to make his badassery kind of funny. He’s taking this material seriously while playing with it.
The rest of the performances though… they’re kind of wobbly. Take Smulders work, for example. Smulders is a fine actress, and her performance here for the most part works. But every so often, whenever she tries being aggressive or something, it doesn’t fully convince. Her work is Oscar worthy though compared to Yarosh.
I acknowledge the fact that Yarosh isn’t even 20 yet, but yet I simply don’t care. She has a job. She got to work alongside my man T-Cruise, and I didn’t. And if you’re gonna pull something like that off, well, then, you better be talented. From what I gathered from her work here… no. It ain’t working. As the cliche hard-assed, possible daughter of Reacher, Yarosh pretty much either barks her lines, or, really, everything she says feels forced. It brings Sofia Coppola’s notorious work in The Godfather Part III to mind, and like everyone who saw that movie, I wish her character would’ve suffered the same fate.
But… but… but… we must also remember that this is an action movie called Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Nobody really expects a masterclass in acting from a movie like this. We show up to films like this in order to be entertained. To pass up the time, and that’s just what this film does. It is thoroughly entertaining, even if it isn’t necessarily good for you.
It also, when it needs to, provides the action movie goods. Probably because the gifted and severely underrated man behind the camera, Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai) knows how to stage a sequence. He appears to be rising above the material even when it appears that all hope is lost.
So, yeah, maybe with Zwick and Cruise involved (reuniting 13 years after The Last Samurai), one might expect a little better. Not me though. I feel as if everyone involved with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back knew just what kind of movie they were making. So, with that, they never tried to pretend otherwise.