If you’ve been watching the action movies that have been released over the past decade or so, you’ve already seen Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Not in a literal sense, but in terms of it being clichéd and highly familiar. That fact will definitely disappoint whoever is hoping for a fresh or somewhat new cinematic offering. On the other end, we all know that some won’t mind much. It’s just unfortunate that there is very little entertainment value for even those members of the movie going public.
In this sequel, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) goes hunting for answers behind a series of murders involving active duty soldiers. Along the way, he teams up with Major Turner (Cobie Smulders), an old ally who may be even more invested in finding out what happened than he is. Together, they face the dangers of a wide-reaching conspiracy that threatens their lives and those closest to them.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is overwhelmingly bland in every way possible. As much as familiarity runs through this, I don’t know if I’ve seen anything from this genre this basic in years. The goal here was obviously to hit every cliché possible while not even attempting anything that could be perceived as new outside of the salt shaker scene that you’ve already seen if you’ve paid attention to some of the promotional material.
Not only does this struggle with its level of familiarity, it also has issues with its characters. In that sense, Never Go Back goes farther back than a decade. Outside of Cruise’s Jack Reacher, the characters here remind me of those low-budget action movies from the 80’s that featured Michael Dudikoff and Cynthia Rothrock as their stars. Those were cheesy movies that featured actors overacting and using generic personalities to do it.
Here, the main assassin (played by Patrick Heusinger) who is chasing after Reacher is one of the characters that is sorely miscast. One of the reasons why he doesn’t work is because it’s difficult to see him as menacing. He looks like he would be too passive to be as vicious as the story tells us he’s supposed to be. Even in the scenes where he’s brutally beating and killing people, it’s hard to see him the way it needs the audience to see him.
As a determined, hard-nosed major, Cobie Smulders also fails. Much like the main villain, she doesn’t fit the part. I know she’s been in some stuff for Marvel, but those aren’t considered to be as serious as this movie is being portrayed. In this role, it simply feels as if she’s trying to hard to be hard. I guess toning that down could have helped, but that also would have likely hurt her character as well in some ways.
Another person who had issues in the acting category is Aldis Hodge. In Straight Outta Compton, he helped his own status as an actor by being a part of that stellar cast, but he misses his target here. He plays a soldier, but he embodies a robotic version with no real human qualities. Even some of his lines fall short of being believable due to his inability to deliver them well enough. Like Smulders, this is another case of someone overacting while being relatively new to this kind of role. They’ve both shown themselves to be better than this, so you hope they learn from the experience and improve in the future.
There’s really no reason why this movie should have been released in such a sad state. It’s almost as if Cruise and the studio wanted to push something out into theaters as quick as possible. If that’s true, it would explain the lack of effort on behalf of the people trying to get this made. Other than that, I can’t see why they would even put this kind of movie out. You know the people involved are better, so it would have been nice to see them make something that meets their quality as filmmakers and actors.
Even while pointing all of this out, there are still worse movies out there that the general public should avoid. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back turns out to be a simplistic affair that doesn’t seem to have any interest in providing anything new or innovative. Although that’s not really a positive way to view this, I can see some people still being able to have a decent enough time watching it. Then again, you would also find movies exactly like it (and even better) that have already been released over the past ten to fifteen years.
Director: Edward Zwick
Film Length: 118 minutes
Release Date: October 21, 2016
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
- Score - 3.5/103.5/10