“I am a fan of sequels even though they are inevitably awful” – Joss Whedon
There are notable exceptions to Joss Whendon’s description of sequels being inevitably awful. The Godfather II. The Dark Knight Rises. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Unfortunately, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back won’t be on that list.
Tom Cruise reprises his role as the former Army officer turned drifter and righter of wrongs. He’s on his way to finally meet Army Major “Susan Turner” (Cobie Smulders) in Washington, D.C. They’ve become phone pals as a result of several of Reacher’s recent escapades, and the fact she now holds his old job as commanding officer of an CID unit. But by the time he gets to her office, she has been arrested and charged with espionage. “Colonel Sam Morgan” (Holt McCallany) informs Reacher of this fact. He also lets him know that a paternity claim was filed with the Army claiming that Reacher is the father of 15 year-old “Samantha Dayton” (Danika Yarosh).
Reacher suspects that Major Turner has been framed and info he gets from her attorney (Robert Catrini) supports that suspicion. It also results in Reacher being arrested after he is framed for the murder of the attorney. This allows him to prevent the murder of Major Turner and break both of them out of the military detention facility. They also have to rescue Samantha from the employees of the military contractor, Para Systems that are behind all of the killings. The conspiracy seems to involve the illegal sales of weapons in Afghanistan that were supposed to be disposed of by Para Systems. But is that the only thing this military contractor, run by former General “James Harkness” (Robert Knepper) is up to?
The major differences between this and the original are that the first film was darn good and there is a different director at the helm of this sequel. Edward Zwick took over from Christopher McQuarrie and given the strength of Mr. Zwick’s directorial resume that seemed a good choice. Maybe it’s the execution of the adaptation of the novel by Lee Child.
Whenever the fault lies, the best thing that can be said about this movie is that it isn’t plain awful. It’s simply boring. The only compelling character is Major Turner and this has as much to do with the limited life that the very talented Cobie Smulders managed to breathe into her. Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher is much weaker than his original turn as the outsized outsider. Even the action sequences are pedestrian and may have the audience checking the number of minutes before the movie mercifully ends. Danika Yarosh is interesting in her role, and Patrick Heusinger does well as the assassin seeking to kill Jack Reacher, even after the mystery has been unraveled and the rest of the guilty parties are in custody with bleak futures.
The Jack Reacher novels are great and worth of better adaptations than this. Hopefully the next time Jack Reacher reaches the big screen, it will be in a better movie.