Never before in the history of filmmaking has there ever been a more appropriate title like Jack Reacher: Never Go Back — because they never should have gone back. Or I assume so, having not seen the original film.
Let us go over again my criteria for an action film: I really will give a pass on shallow characterization and thin plots if the action is fantastic. Never Go Back seems to have no intention of delivering either fleshed out characters, nor great action set-pieces. I can’t even figure out why anyone thought this film was a good idea, other than the previous film made money.
The plot revolves around Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher having a flirty phone relationship with Cobie Smulders’ Major Turner who is wrongfully imprisoned. Her character is basically marked for death but the plot inexplicably delays that act in order to for Reacher to rescue her. There are so many cliche non-sensical plot points in play throughout this film that I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a satire of the spy-thriller genre.
That brings me to my next point of criticism, which is that spy-thrillers tend to have a subversive and complicated plot, which takes the audience by surprise in order to work. I consider spy-thrillers and heist films to be so close to each other, genre-wise, that the only difference is the archetypes who play the main characters. The point is that you shouldn’t be able to see the resolution to the mystery coming. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back not only fails at this, but telegraphs the twist in advance, making the audience suffer through bad action scene after bad action scene until the film confirms what everyone expects.
There’s also the personal story for Reacher, which includes a possible long-lost fifteen year old daughter. She falls into that trope of a child character who is both incredibly smart and so ineptly stupid, that the only reason she makes any decisions is that the plot required her to be intelligent or a dimwit in any given circumstance.
This film has very little redeeming value, and the only positive thing I can say about it is that it is consistently mediocre. As a production, it was competently put together and that is me absolutely damning this film with faint praise.
I’m not sure what Tom Cruise is expecting to get out of this franchise, as everything in it was so B-movie bad, that I have trouble with the fact that any A-lister is attached to it. This film is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando, without the steel drum soundtrack or realization that it is as cheesy as it is.
Here’s the trailer: