Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back More Than Earns the Distinction of Being One of Tom Cruise's Most Tedious Movies

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the perfect movie for people who were chomping at the bit to see a Tom Cruise blockbuster worse than The Mummy. It's a total snoozefest for everyone else, one that can't even muster up enough competent fistfights to satiate action film junkies. This Edward Zwick directed project looks and acts like a USA Network TV movie that inexplicably managed to cast one of the biggest movie stars of all-time in its lead role. While I found the first Jack Reacher to be a mixed bag, that very same motion picture looks like a John Wick movie in comparison to this turkey of a sequel.

What kind of shenanigans has Jack Reacher gotten into in this dud of a film? Well, this former member of the U.S. military is a guy who lives on the lam, never sticking around in one spot for long and doing odd jobs for hire. He does keep in contact with one of his former associates from his military days though, a major by the name of Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) who has just been arrested under suspicious circumstances. Reacher thinks there may be something fishy going on here and he turns out to be dead-on. Turner is caught up in a conspiracy by high-ranking U.S. military officials who want her to take the fall for their crimes.

Jack Reacher manages to break Turner out of her holding cell and the two strike out on a mission to take down the people responsible for framing them. All the while, Jack Reacher's potential daughter, Samantha Dutton (Danika Yarosh), is along for the ride as a way to give the guy who can't handle commitment something to be responsible for.  If that sounds like a plot that could generate some suspense & espionage, trust me, it does not. This is a script (penned by three writers, including Edward Zwick himself) that falters in numerous ways but it's especially lacking in inventiveness as seen by the clunky ways Reacher and his associates keep getting out of scrapes.

There's clearly no wit being incorporated into this particular Jack Reacher adventure and that extends to the few action scenes, which are poorly shot and lack any sort of excitement. The key subplot of Jack Reacher interacting with his possible daughter is even more direly lacking in creativity, as Samantha is one of those teenage girl stereotype characters who was obviously written by middle-aged men who don't know how actual women of any age act. This means the character is more grating than anything else, though she's not as irritating as Jack Reacher himself, a macho lead character that Tom Cruise fails to imbue with any sense of personality.

Anyone hoping for even just some of the charisma or confidence he brings to his Mission: Impossible movies will be sorely disappointed by how thoroughly tedious his performance as Jack Reacher is. Meanwhile, Cobie Smulders has little to do in this story beyond just getting mansplained to by Jack Reacher. All of these actors interact with each other in the middle of sets that look cheap as hell and are filmed`by amateurish camerawork, though at least the visual aspects of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back are better than the laughably bad script that aims for twists and turns but ends up creating all too easy to solve mysteries that put the audience numerous steps ahead of the clueless on-screen characters. If this film is a sign for what kind of quality we could have expected from prospective further Jack Reacher sequels then it is very much a good thing that Never Go Back seems to have killed the franchise off.

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