Stars: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh
When former military investigator Jack Reacher (Cruise) returns to his old military base to meet with Major Susan Turner (Smulders) he finds that she has been arrested following the deaths of two soldiers under her command. Reacher is drawn into a series of events that puts not only his and Turner’s lives at risk, but also that of Samantha (Yarosh); a young girl who Reacher thinks may be his daughter. A game of cat and mouse follows as Reacher, Turner and Samantha look to evade the hit-men hunting them down as well as those involved within the military, all the while trying to clear their names and uncover a larger conspiracy.
But Major Turner is clearly well equipped for life in the military and fighting off the enemy with her Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 notebook computer. The toughest of all Panasonic rugged notebooks, with its magnesium alloy protection the Toughbook has been tested to military standards to work in the harshest environments. It even has a secret stealth mode to make it invisible to detection when undercover in the field.
The follow up to 2012’s Jack Reacher (based on the novels by Lee Child) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back plays out as your typical action-flick from the get-go. Several well choreographed fights and shootouts provide the thrills, while the occasional one-liner breaks up the more serious portions of the film. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, the action-film formula has been refined over the years and clearly still sells, it’s just a shame that Jack Reacher: Never Go Back rarely strays from the beaten path which perhaps, had it done so more regularly, may have elevated it above similar films.
While the story itself is solid enough, a confusing hierarchy of villains inadvertently creates more questions for the viewer than seemingly intended, as you’re never quite sure who is actually in charge. This results in the film over-playing certain character’s roles, whilst under-using those that may have offered more conflict and intrigue to the overall story.
Cruise delivers a solid return as Jack Reacher and, while he shares the spoils on this occasion with Cobi Smulder’s Turner, there is a believable chemistry between the two throughout. Adding this extra dimension to Reacher’s character is a smart move and the writers, along with Director Edward Zwick, were wise enough to limit the other, perhaps expected, aspects of their on-screen relationship. Samantha, played by Danika Yarosh, is the films standout star. While her character provides the main personal conflict for Reacher, her performance is succinct and assured alongside A-Lister Cruise. The supporting cast is solid too, with Patrick Heusinger’s ‘The Hunter’ and Aldin Hodges’ Espin being the two standouts.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a typical action movie and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to sit down in a cinema and switch off for two hours then this is the perfect film. There is still plenty of room for the Jack Reacher character and the universe to grow, with twenty or so books in Lee Child’s series this is unlikely to be the last time we see Reacher on the big-screen. The foundations have been set and hopefully will be built upon. If more risks are taken on the concept, then there is nothing to stop the Jack Reacher franchise growing and growing over the next few years.