Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Film Review #103

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
Director: Edward Zwick Starring: Tom Cruise, Coby Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Aldis Hodge, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, Robert Knepper, Jessica Stroup

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 118 Minutes

Tagline: "Never give in. Never give up. Never Go Back."

Despite being based on the first of a whole series of books, the first Jack Reacher film wasn't exactly a roaring success, even with the charismatic Tom Cruise in the lead role, so I wasn't really expecting to see a sequel, even if there is plenty of source material. But lo, arriving four years later to little fanfare, that was exactly what we got. It's set an unspecified period of time after the first and sees Mr. Reacher continuing his drifting and occasional vigilante tomfoolery. After establishing that with an opening bust taking down a human trafficking ring, we get down to the business at hand which will feel immediately familiar to fans of the first film. Reacher, you see, has struck up a friendship with Major Susan Turner (Smulders) who is based at his old military HQ but when he goes to meet her face-to-face for the first time he finds she has been arrested and detained as she awaits trial on charges of espionage.

Reacher and Major Turner make their escape...
Naturally, Reacher isn't convinced, immediately assuming she's been set up, and decides to spring her out of prison and go on the lam with her while they try to figure out the conspiracy that apparently landed her there to begin with. This is despite the fact that he himself has now been implicated and is a wanted man too. On top of all that, Reacher has apparently been identified as the unknowing father of Samantha (Yarosh), a 15-year old girl who is now also in danger simply by association. Gah! All he (probably) wanted to do was dip his wick but it can never be that simple for an ex-miltary police investigator it seems! Aside from the unexpected daughter though, it probably sounds rather like the first film, and the basic outline is just that really, but everything is just slightly worse here.

It's hammer time as Turner dishes out some 'major' hurt...
Part of that is because we're now familiar with the main character, so the intrigue there is absent for the most part, but aside from the two female leads there really isn't that much of interest. The two main antagonists are General Harkness (Knepper) and his nameless muscle identified in the credits simply as 'Hunter' (Heusinger), but neither has much in the way of character. Knepper gets a few of his his usual evil sneers in and Heusinger has some decent action scenes where he shows he's more than a match for Reacher, but that's about it, and the story itself - some sort of generic weapons/drugs smuggling guff - is rather less compelling than the previous film too, perhaps at least partly on account of these issues. Cruise puts in his usual committed performance but even he seems a little bored here at times.

The two ladies make things a little more interesting with Smulders again proving a natural in the action stakes (she might even get a bit typecast if she's not careful) and she has good chemistry with Cruise too, while Yarosh also has her moments as his street-smart but vulnerable daughter (possibly), but despite their presence I can't help feeling that this is just more of the same, only not as good. I had hoped for more from a director as talented as Zwick who also directed Cruise to great effect in The Last Samurai. It's a perfectly watchable action/conspiracy thriller with a mixture of amusing and cheesy dialogue (see the trailer below for examples of both!), but don't expect to remember too much about it afterwards. I probably wouldn't expect to see Reacher back on our screens anytime soon either.

RKS Score: 6/10


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