#REVIEW: “JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
Few action stars guarantee box office revenue as consistently as Tom Cruise. His familiar presence on screen is a balm to audiences who believe that action and smart stories should go hand-in-hand. If in recent years, he seems reluctant to encourage fans to see past his million watt smile to the character he is portraying it is simply because wants to give the world what it wants: Tom Cruise the Commodity. With big opening weekends and even bigger explosions Cruise’s movies are perceived as a reliable two hours of escapism and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is no exception.
When life on the road proves lonelier for Reacher (Cruise) than expected, he finds himself making semi-regular calls Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) in D.C. After months of telephonic foreplay Reacher decides to visit Turner in person only to discover she has been arrested by the Military Police for espionage. Reacher quickly sets out to exonerate his friend only to find Parasource, a mysterious government contractor, lurking behind every corner. Complicating matters for Reacher is the discovery that he might be the father of teenager Samantha Dayton (Danika Yarosh). To save his potential daughter from being used as a pawn in Parasource’s schemes, fugitives Reacher and Turner take Sam to New Orleans where they hope to unlock the secrets that have already cost the lives of two servicemen.
The question of Sam’s parentage remains something of a McGuffin throughout the Movie despite delightfully awkward parent/teen moments between the three main characters. While the chemistry between the insta-family gels in a believable way the movie’s villains are far less convincing. It felt like Screenwriters Zwick (serving double duty), Richard Wenk, and Marshall Herskovitz simply checked-off the Central Casting boxes of mysterious assassin, senior official on the take, and interchangeable cannon fodder. The only secondary character of any depth is Espin (Aldis Hodge), who has far too little screen time to explain his motivation.
If Reacher occasionally strains to find its feet within a muddy plot it more than compensates in the action department. In addition to the requisite Tom Cruise Running Scenes™ director Edward Zwick proves himself adept at putting the hero in plenty of dangerous scenarios he must fight his way out of. From scenarios borrowed from The Raid to deceptively-simple rooftop fights, Reacher takes more than a few hits on his journey toward redemption. Smulders is no shrinking violet; with a strong sense of justice to back up her punches, Turner doesn’t need any ex-Major to fight her battles.
During the Movie’s opening sequence, Reacher describes himself as “the guy you didn’t count on.” In reality, however, Tom Cruise is the box office magic everyone can count on. His intense delivery sells the Movie in a way many newer action stars can only dream of. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a solid sequel and a strong addition to a great franchise.
Paramount Pictures Canada release Jack Reacher: Never Go Back on Friday, October 21, 2016.