Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Movie Review
I had to take a piss (okay, I had to go #2), but I was afraid to leave for fear of missing a plot turn. That’s how quickly Jack Reacher: Never Goes Back unfolds—but is that enough to make this sequel worth it?
Tom Cruise is back in the follow-up to the perfectly decent 2012 action-thriller Jack Reacher—the dangerously titled Jack Reacher: Never Go Back—a perfectly decent action-thriller. The movie serves as a refreshingly rough-around-the-edges, lower-budgeted thriller that stands apart from the barrage of big-budget blockbusters, yet simultaneously struggles to escape its generic trappings.
Based on the 18th Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child, the movie attempts to paint Tom Cruise as a rugged, take-no-shit-from-anyone badass, and while Cruise is perfectly fine in the role, it’s hard to escape the feeling—regardless of the knowledge that the book character is supposed to be tall and large, something that Cruise physically is not—that a different actor would be better suited for Jack Reacher. Still, it’s Cruise who we get, and he works well enough.
Though it’s an action-thriller, the action comes in short, violent bursts followed by stretches of fast-paced plotting. The plot advancements are what makes the movie work—while the Mission: Impossible movies are undoubtedly better, more exciting and more memorable, the last few iterations have relied on increasingly thin-around-the-edges plots—it’s nice to see a movie rely more on detective work and small-scale plotting than the typical blockbuster tropes.
Sadly, the story only works until the master plot is revealed—and that master plot is a generic, stereotypical one that you’ve seen in dozens of movies before. Jack Reacher: Never Goes Back features a solid climactic fight scene on the rooftops of New Orleans’ French District, but the villains and their motivations are utterly forgettable.
The movie’s other big weakness is the introduction of a teenage girl, played by Danika Yarosh, who may or may not be Jack Reacher’s daughter. Yarosh just isn’t very good in the role, but she is extremely limited by the fact that her character sucks and is utterly annoying and/or stupid throughout. Even worse is the acknowledgement that her character could have been excised completely and the story still could have unfolded in much the same way.
Jack Reacher: Never Goes Back is much like its predecessor, a moderately entertaining, solidly crafted thriller that can never escape the limitations of its generic and ultimately forgettable story.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.