Remember back in 2012, when the first Jack Reacher film came out? It came, it saw, it didn’t really conquer – at least with critics and audiences. But it made a shit-ton of money, which is enough for the bigwigs in Hollywood, and presumably Tom Cruise himself, to embark on creating a sequel. Because of course, we want – no, we need - more Jack Reacher. It’s been a hard five years since the first film with no new Jack Reacher in the world. We’ve suffered. We’ve had sleepless nights. But now we can rest easy, because the Cruise is back with another Reacher adventure. Hooray…
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back sounds painfully predictable on the surface – our hero must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name, whilst uncovering a secret about his past – because it is painfully predictable. It makes absolutely zero effort to distinguish itself on a narrative level from every action thriller ever. A government conspiracy? Being on the run? Secret past? My word, it’s all the same. Is it Bond? Is it Bourne? Is it Reacher? Could be any of them. No, there are no Reacherisms to make this film stand out. It blends into the crowd and is lost under superior films. Rotten Tomatoes’ consensus sums it up perfectly in two words – monotonously formulaic. Poetic, and accurate. Still, there might be something good in it…right?
The 5ft5 Tom Cruise returns to play the 6ft5 titular hero, and clearly loves every minute of being the hero in his early 50s. Much like the later Mission:Impossible films, Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow; Jack Reacher is an ego trip for everyone’s favourite sofa-jumper. He’s not particularly bad here but then he hasn’t really been good since the 1990s, so this is just as good as it gets with Cruise. But then again, nobody in this is particularly good. Now, think back to 2012 when we were…treated…to the first film. Reacher’s first adventure had a supporting cast of Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo and Robert fucking Duvall. What a cast, right? Surely this sequel will match that, I bet you’re thinking. Nope. We’ve got Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge and Danika Yarosh. If you know all 3 of those ‘stars’, you’re clearly more of an entertainment enthusiast than I. They’re all decent enough but wholly unremarkable. I suppose a film like this isn’t dependent on acting chops, it’s all about that sweet sweet action.
Jack Reacher’s action sequences work well enough with lots of bang bang, smash smash and…drive drive, despite being lazily executed. It’s not enough, though. We can get that anywhere these days. Even action films need a little bit of substance but Jack Reacher’s substance is paper-thin. The whole film reeks of a cash-grab, practically ripping the udders off the Tom Cruise cash cow. While the first film was made with the intention of starting a franchise and this sequel obviously intended to continue it, I can’t imagine it’ll go any further. Nobody gives a shit about Jack Reacher. No offence to author Lee Child, I’m sure the books are just fine. But on screen? Jack Reacher is a bellend.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is, as many have noted, a fitting title. Tom Cruise and his cronies shouldn’t have ‘gone back’ to Reacher, it should’ve been left alone. Making a sequel was a waste of time, money, resources for them – and a waste of time for us who have had to watch the bloody thing. I haven’t even got the motivation to make a Rick Astley joke about the film’s title and tagline (“never give in, never give up, never go back”). When one doesn’t have the motivation for a Rick Astley joke, you know it’s the end.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back hopefully spells the end for this shitty attempt at a franchise.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back at CeX
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