Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review
Never go back? Well, if we didn’t go back we wouldn’t get sequels to movies that we enjoyed, though sometimes the follow-up does diminish the original. I don’t think that was exactly the case with Jack Reacher Never Go Back (or Jack Reacher 2 if you prefer), but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first film. That being said, I still believe that Jack Reacher can be a successful action franchise and still put out a few more good films.
Jack Reacher has been on the road, travelling here and there, righting wrongs, bringing criminals to justice and quietly assisting the army. He’s stricken up a friendship with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who has his former job. Communicating by phone, it seems they will finally meet up in person and have that dinner they’ve discussed but Major Turner is arrested on treason charges. Reacher thinks the charges are just to keep her out of the way and prevent her from solving the mystery of two soldiers murdered in Afghanistan; soldiers she sent on an investigation; soldiers who were getting too close to the truth; soldiers she still feels responsible for. Reacher finds the file on Turner, and inside it is a file on him as well, a file that suggests he has a teenage daughter (Danika Yarosh) he never knew about. Naturally the girl is threatened so Reacher has to bring her along with himself and Major Turner as they cross the United States tracking down clues and beating up bad guys as they get to the bottom of the frame-up.
I liked it, but felt it was turning into a family road trip movie rather than a spy/action thriller. I signed up for a spy/action thriller. Fortunately there was enough action to carry it, and it was shared pretty well between Cruise and Smulders. Cruise as Reacher did have more action scenes, and more important ones, but Smulders’ Major Turner was quite capable on her own (Smulders herself was Deputy Director of SHIELD Maria Hill if you remember). That was great, but I thought that the addition of their teenage travelling companion really slowed the movie down though. Danika Yarosh did a good job, but the character herself didn’t seem to fit. If the premise is that Reacher thinks the bad guys will harm her to get to him, and that Reacher is the best at what he does, does it make good strategic sense to bring her along with you? Maybe once they’re “safe” call someone to pick her up, or send her off to be watched by someone he trusts? The lawyer played by Rosamund Pike in the first one perhaps? His old sniper friend (Robert Duvall) from the first movie? Wait, he might have died in that one, it’s been a few years and I can’t remember. Regardless, Reacher has contacts out there that he could call upon to keep the girl safe, which might have allowed for more action, more suspense and the the story to unfold a little better. Who knows.
I think since we’ve had films like The Transporter and John Wick where the action has been amped up so much that action movies are continually trying to outdo themselves which is getting harder and harder. Jack Reacher Never Go Back did a very good job with the fights, but I think the original was actually more “action packed”. I liked the story, and was a little surprised by one of the reveals of the plot. Not a bad film, but it played the “family” card a bit too heavily I thought.
Bottom Line: I liked Reacher a lot more when he drove a Chevelle SS…this one needed more car chases.