Classic Movie Reviews

Classic Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” which originally appeared here.

Investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) springs into action after the arrest of Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), an Army major accused of treason. Suspecting foul play, Jack embarks on a mission to prove that the head of his old unit is innocent. After crossing paths with the law, Reacher must now go on the lam to uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy that involves the death of U.S. soldiers.

I had no idea that this series was based on books until I saw this one. I haven’t seen the first film but if you’re like me, you probably don’t have to see the first film as this story is pretty self-contained. Even if you haven’t seen any of the films, you’ve probably already seen it in one form or another. Nothing about this will be surprising. It’s not that it’s good or bad, it’s just been done much better in other films.

The story here is about an ex-major named Jack Reacher (Cruise) who develops a relationship with another major named Susan Turner (Smulders) over a series of phone conversations. Being in Reacher’s old position, she and Reacher bonded albeit never meeting. Once Turner is mysteriously accused for treason, Reacher goes on a mission to prove her innocence. There is a conspiracy here but it’s easy to forget it sometimes as they seemed to always be running away from something but the why wasn’t always clear. It felt like the plot was going to slowly, almost going nowhere as they tried to uncover the conspiracy.

The film tried to throw another wrench by giving Reacher a young girl who may or may not be his daughter named Samantha (Danika Yarosh). Without giving too much away, she did not add anything to the plot and the film would not have changed without her. They only included her to set her up for other films, if they decide to make any. She primarily served as a catalyst for most of the action sequences, fueled by her teenage naivety and providing occasional quips. They usually came off as either cheesy or annoying. Reacher and Turner did not have the best chemistry so adding her just made things worse.

Other than a quick montage of phone calls at the beginning, during the opening credits, it was difficult to fully buy into Reacher and Turner’s relationship. They spent a lot of time together at the start and these scenes were kind of fun but that almost went away completely once Samantha showed up. Reacher who was used to doing things alone had to deal with Turner trying to stand up to him but it didn’t really go anywhere as it was, and was always going to be Reacher’s show. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but it would have been nice if the film had given its other characters more of a chance.

The story and the characters may not have been all there but the action made things interesting. Sure, a lot if it was just there to may Cruise look good, with plenty of unplausible, gratuitous fight scenes but it was still decent. Because there was little story, the action got repetitive and it was easy to get bored. The film’s derivative nature, with the story and the action, made it very predictable , but the payoff was disappointing.

The acting was decent with Cruise being exactly what one would expect. His charm and screen presence made Reacher very watchable and fun to watch. His presence elevates the generic action, making it look better than if just about anyone else in the same position. Smulders was good too individually but the film never really gave her much of a chance. She and Cruise may have lacked chemistry but they were still kind of fun to watch. Yarosh was okay in a pointless role, but the film did not give her much of a chance, never getting a chance to connect to the audience.

Overall, this is a decent, albeit derivative action film, elevated by Cruise.

Score: 6/10

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