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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Movie Review

Jack Reacher 2: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital Copy cover art
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is now available on home video. Read our review of the 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) movie poster Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Theatrical Release: October 21, 2016 / Running Time: 118 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Edward Zwick / Writers: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz (screenplay); Lee Child (book Never Go Back)

Cast: Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher), Cobie Smulders (Major Susan Turner), Aldis Hodge (Lt. Espin), Danika Yarosh (Samantha Dayton), Patrick Heusinger (The Hunter), Holt McCallany (Colonel Morgan), Robert Catrini (Colonel Moorcroft), Jason Douglas (Sheriff), Robert Knepper (General Harkness)

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Tom Cruise has had many critical and commercial successes over the years, but for the most part, he has resisted making sequels out of his hits. The one exception is Mission: Impossible. Cruise's enduring success in what has become his flagship franchise
with five films over the past twenty years seems to have warmed him to the notion of sequels, at least in the action genre. A follow-up to 2014's Edge of Tomorrow recently found its writers. But long before that materializes, here is Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, a sequel to Cruise's Christmas 2012 vehicle.

Adapted from the ninth of twenty and counting novels in Lee Child's series, the first Jack Reacher was an above-average affair. It received mildly favorable reviews and showed enough legs to eventually be deemed profitable with $218 million worldwide earnings on a modest $60 million budget. People seemed to have liked, not loved Jack Reacher, eventually accepting the diminutive, brunette Cruise portraying a character who was 6'5" and blonde in the books. But Cruise, who has nimbly maintained some appeal despite all his mid-Noughties weirdness, has reprised the hero in a sequel adapted from Child's 18th Reacher novel.

Brrrriiing! A pay phone call is about to save Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) from being arrested in "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back."

We open with Reacher being Reacher. The ex-Military Police Major is about to be arrested in a diner, following an unseen 1-on-4 street brawl from which he calmly prevailed with a few scratches when a payphone rings and instead it is the sheriff who is to be arrested.

When Major Susan Turner (Colbie Smulders), a colleague at his former workplace with whom he is friendly, gets arrested for espionage, Reacher becomes interested in clearing her name. Reacher's interest in the case breeds concern from Turner's replacement (Holt McCallany) and her military attorney (Robert Catrini), who has been instructed to keep him at bay. When the attorney turns up murdered, Reacher is about to be charged. Instead, he breaks free and then breaks Turner out of prison, setting the two off on an adventure to clear both of their names and uncover conspiracy within the military.

In addition, Reacher, who has been commissioned back to his military Major status against his will, discovers the existence of Samantha Dayton (Danika Yarosh), a streetwise 15-year-old girl who may be his daughter, if her former prostitute mother's claims are accurate.

Reacher, Turner, and the teenage girl head to New Orleans, where Halloween festivities are under way. They are tailed by a persistent assassin (Patrick Heusinger) determined to wipe them out.

Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) and Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) hit New Orleans in a sequel I prefer to call "A Jack Reacher Halloween."

While Jack Reacher wound up being above average, Never Go Back is pretty much the definition of "average." The $96 million budget is a puzzling, significant step up from the first film, which wasn't popular enough to justify going bigger. And the increased budget hasn't been spent in obvious ways. Gone are the exciting supporting cast members of the original film including Rosamund Pike,
David Oyelowo, Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall, and Werner Herzog. In their place are no one particularly noteworthy or commendable. Smulders is fine, essentially reprising her no-nonsense S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill from Marvel's Avengers movies and television shows. The rest of the cast would probably still be involved if this was being made for TNT with a more text-befitting Anthony Michael Hall in the title role.

And Cruise, whose longevity as leading man already places him in rarified air in cinema history, doesn't seem particularly interested or inspired here. Sure, he throws punches, performs his signature run, and shows off a torso most 54-year-old men would love to have. But this sequel lacks the breathtaking Mission stunts, the artistry that defined his late '80s and '90s work, and even the flair you expect of a relatively big budgeted studio popcorn movie.

Taking over directing duties from Christopher McQuarrie and also sharing screenplay credit, Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) does little to revive a résumé that has been on a downslide for some time.

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4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray)
Now in Theaters: The Accountant • The Birth of a Nation • The Girl on the Train • Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience • Moonlight • Jason Bourne
Tom Cruise: Jack Reacher • Edge of Tomorrow • Oblivion • Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation • Vanilla Sky • Top Gun • Knight and Day
Colbie Smulders: Delivery Man • Avengers: Age of Ultron • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directed by Edward Zwick: Pawn Sacrifice | Written by Richard Wenk: The Equalizer • The Magnificent Seven • The Mechanic
Pay the Ghost • The Nice Guys

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Reviewed October 21, 2016.



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