What a hilarious garbage movie. It’s so bad that it’s fun (or it had enough action distractions to make me feel like it was fun). It’s peak Tom Cruise…in the sense that Tom Cruise has gotten so far up his own ass that he can’t play any character besides the characters Tom Cruise has already played. You know, the tall, dark, handsome, tall (Yes, I said tall twice because Tommy wears lifts in his shoes) ass-kicker with the edgy name like Ethan Hunt or William Cage.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back—a title that gets its name from the eighteenth novel in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher book series, but ultimately a title that makes no sense for the movie’s plot—is a sequel to 2012’s Jack Reacher, which was fairly successful, but not enough that it demanded a sequel. In fact, you don’t even have to see the first film to understand the second, negating the point of a sequel (i.e., continue developing a character and their story).
The plot is a mishmash of Reacher helping his military police successor Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) escape from a wrongful military espionage accusation and a paternity suit subplot that sticks the emotionally-distant Reacher with an emotional teenage girl who might be his daughter (Danika Yarosh).
What’s weird is the movie somehow manages to be both overly formulaic and sloppy. It uses the typical action movie tropes, like the bad guy taunting the good guy with tales of how he’s going to hurt the woman in his life to showcase a weakness he’s never had until now (in this case, Reacher’s potential daughter). But, at the same time, it diverges from a pretty easy-to-follow plot structure to make gigantic jumps to conclusions that, well, don’t make sense.
It’s a shame because you can tell its cast is trying its damnedest to make this movie good. Tom Cruise and Cobie Smulders are giving it their all, trying to force intensity into their performances and make this lame plot feel like it’s important. But it’s nothing more than a dumb movie with a few cool ass-kicking moments.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back: C-
Listen to my review of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back on “Pat & JT in the Morning” here (at 34:04).