Never Go Back is the second Jack Reacher novel, written by Lee Child, to be adapted for the big screen, and after being less than impressed when I got Jack Reacher round the first time, I went back for more… and I shouldn’t have gone.
It does start off well, though, in a scene trailered heavily as he turns the tables on some cops, after Jack (Tom Cruise) is arrested for beating up some men, only to tell the law, “Two things will happen in the next 90 seconds – that phone (on the wall) will ring, and you’re gonna be wearing these cuffs”. As it plays out, they’re left asking, “Who the hell are you?”, to which he replies, “The guy you didn’t count on”.
So, this opener really did impress, BUT… it soon began to fall flat.
After talking to Major Turner (Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s Cobie Smulders) on the phone for many a time, he gets to her office only to learn that as two army sargeants have been bumped off out in the field, she has been arrested for espionage, then Jack is later under arrest for a crime he didn’t commit, he can’t get hold of The A-Team, and soon the plot starts going out the window, not least because we couldn’t give two hoots about the dead army types, as we’ve not been made to invest in their story.
Most of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is Cruise walking about from A to B, usually with Cobie, although I heard there’d be a lot of punching, but there’s not as much as I thought, and definitely nowhere near the level that Bourne does, meaning Jason Bourne does the ‘lone stranger’ thing so much better. Hence, while Bourne went from A to B (and punch), then C to D (and punch), then E to F (and punch), and so on, Jack Reacher goes from A to B (and punch), C to about G (and punch) – throwing in annoying teenager Samantha (Danika Yarosh) along the way, H to around R (and punch) – including a lot of stilted ‘Action Man’-style running, and you’re left checking your watch at every movement on in the alphabet inbetween.
It features the well-worn trope that no good guys can be trusted, and he has a punch-up with four guys for no reason, other than to show that sometimes baddies track him down and think they can take him out even though it usually ends with them dying, so you’d think they’d have learned by now. Of course, he had to go down a back alley to attract these ne’er-do-wells, so why didn’t he just stick to the main streets in the first place? And he steals a military policeman’s outfit, previously belonging to a very tall man, so it s NOT going to fit Cruise at all. Except it does. Somehow. It may have fitted with Jack Reacher – the character is 6′ 5″ in the books, while the actor portraying him is 5′ 7″. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being 5′ 7″ – I am that height, but he ain’t the build of Reacher.
As for the film, there’s just so little happening in it, with no memorable baddies (certainly no-one to match Werner Herzog in the first movie), and it really is a case of “everything is in the trailer”, except for the explanation to the opening scene, which I’ll leave you to find for yourself. And throughout the whole two hours, there was also so little happening aurally. I couldn’t remember any single moments when I heard anything major coming out in the speakers behind or to the side of me – in an IMAX screen! It may as well have been one of Woody Allen’s mono movies!
About the most interesting thing I could find in this movie was that Lee Child, himself, plays an airport passport checker as Cruise is about to take a flight. The couple behind me only realised he was in it when the credits listed Child as “TSA Agent” and the talkative dullards thought that meant he was a secret agent, of some sort.
Straight after this, I went into I, Daniel Blake, and if I hadn’t made notes about Jack Reacher 2 watching it, I wouldn’t have remembered a thing about it. How on earth are the novels such a huge seller?
Running time: 118 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures UK
Cinema: Odeon, Trafford Centre
Format: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
Released: October 20th 2016
Director: Edward Zwick
Producers: Tom Cruise, Don Granger and Christopher McQuarrie
Screenplay: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (based on the novel by Lee Child)
Music: Henry Jackman
Jack Reacher: Tom Cruise
Major Turner: Cobie Smulders
Espin: Aldis Hodge
Samantha@: Danika Yarosh
The Hunter: Patrick Heusinger
Col. Morgan: Holt McCallany
Sgt. Leach: Madalyn Horcher
Col. Moorcroft: Robert Catrini
Buzzcut: Anthony Molinari
Cibelli: M. Serrano
Mirkovich: Nicole Barre
Lt. Sullivan: Jessica Stroup
Local Deputy: Judd Lormand
Onlooker at Diner: Christopher Berry
Onlooker at Diner: Hunter Burke
Sheriff: Jason Douglas
TSA Agent (passport checker guy): Lee Child
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.