By Dave B.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016, currently on Amazon Prime), sequel to 2012s surprisingly engaging “Jack Reacher”, follows Reacher (Tom Cruise) as he tries to save his phone pal, Maj. Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) from a bland conspiracy involving a defense contractor and a corrupt army officer. Throw into the mix Reacher’s potential daughter Samantha (Danika Yarosh), and we wind up with an extremely predictable action movie.
There’s nothing about the plot of Jack Reacher: NGB that you can’t figure out if you’ve ever seen a movie before. It’s standard fare, with substandard fight choreography and an overly long 118 minute runtime. The villains are cut-and-paste from any average-quality American action movie of the past 40 years. Under most circumstances, I would write this movie off as kinda bad, but not terrible, and go about my day. However, Jack Reacher: NGB has a couple of bright spots: Smulders and Yarosh.
Smulders gives a surprisingly compelling performance. I don’t intend to imply that she’s a bad actress. But I’m surprised that she plays such an underwritten character with a high degree of strength and nuance. Her performance is impressive and if the movie had more of her and less of Cruise (who seems to have phoned this one in), it would have been better off. Same goes for Yarosh. Her character is written with wild inconsistency. On the one hand, Samantha can be annoyingly naïve at times (who doesn’t know that cell phones and credit cards can be tracked???). On the other, she is determined, intelligent, and charismatic. Yarosh does a good job of playing a poorly written character and making her bearable instead of insufferable.
Outside of Smulders and Yarosh, Jack Racher: Never Go Back doesn’t have much going for it. I didn’t hate it, but if a movie is going to be two hours long, it shouldn’t be as predictable as this one is. This film is a classic example of a studio trying to use a sequel to cash in on the popularity of an unexpectedly successful first movie, without wanting to put many resources or much effort into making the sequel something special and unique. I don’t recommend it unless you’re a HUGE fan of Cobie Smulders or unless you’ve committed yourself to watching every Tom Cruise movie ever made, regardless of quality.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.