Magazine article Screen International

'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back': Review

Article excerpt

Dir: Edward Zwick. US. 2016. 118mins

Two films in, the Jack Reacher franchise appears to be no threat to Mission: Impossible as everyone's choice for Tom Cruise's best vehicle. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is always faintly diverting but never particularly engrossing, putting the venerable movie star through his paces without really asking much of him. In this instalment, the titular drifter must confront the consequences of his nomadic lifestyle, but like the film's ho-hum action sequences, nothing memorable comes of it.

Opening in the US and UK this weekend, Never Go Back represents a more modest box-office proposition than Cruise's Mission: Impossible blockbusters, shooting for solid rather than spectacular grosses. The 2012 original grossed $218 million worldwide on a reported $60-million budget, and Paramount would be thrilled with comparable grosses for this sequel, which will benefit from being released in China.

Cruise plays Reacher, a former high-ranking officer in the US military police who walked away from the job to become a roaming vigilante bringing justice to those in need. On a trip to Washington, D.C., he learns that the woman who replaced him, Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), has been court-marshalled, accused of espionage in the deaths of two American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. Believing she's innocent, Reacher frees Turner, sending them on a quest to uncover what really happened while the authorities give chase.

Never Go Back serves as a reunion between Cruise and his Last Samurai director Edward Zwick, who takes over for Jack Reacher filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie. Unfortunately, Zwick brings only a workmanlike professionalism to this adaptation of the Lee Child novel. In keeping with this franchise's small-scale ambitions, Never Go Back plays like a cut-rate Jason Bourne or Mission: Impossible movie, delivering action-movie thrills on a relatively miniscule studio budget. As a result, there's a vaguely generic tone to the proceedings, Zwick producing the expected amount of chase scenes and mano-a-mano fight sequences without much flair or style.

In theory, that stripped-down approach should only help amplify Cruise's considerable charisma and intensity. But for all his ability to command the screen, the actor has yet to figure out what, if anything, is especially compelling about this character. …

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