Review: JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 20 October 2016



In this second big screen adaptation of Lee Childs' Jack Reacher novel series, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) attempts to uncover the truth behind Major Susan Turner's (Cobie Smulders) accusation of espionage. The case also relates him to his own past after discovering he might have a teenage daughter named Samantha (Danika Yarosh).

REVIEW: Jack Reacher is back... and nothing much has changed. Even with a different director this time around (Edward Zwick replacing original director Christopher McQuarrie from the 2012 movie), the second instalment fails to do justice to Lee Childs' popular Jack Reacher novel series.

Once again, it's Tom Cruise front and centre playing the titular character. In JACK REACHER, he was already miscast for the role. Now in JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK, it makes no difference at all. Like the first movie, he tries too hard to act mean and putting his usual charismatic self at the same time. But it doesn't work for him since he hardly looks the part as a cold-hearted person like the character in the book itself.

Then comes the director. Whereas McQuarrie failed him in JACK REACHER but managed to make amends in last year's MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION, it was a polar opposite for Zwick. His previous collaboration with Cruise in THE LAST SAMURAI was a very successful one, but he fails miserably in JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK. First of all, his direction is surprisingly flat and uninspired. Remember how he used to make entertaining movies like COURAGE UNDER FIRE (1996), BLOOD DIAMOND (2006) and even to a certain extent, THE SIEGE (1998)? It was almost non-existent here. Despite enlisting veteran BOURNE cinematographer Oliver Wood, the action barely raises a pulse. In fact, it's a rare feeling to see how tedious it turns to be watching Tom Cruise punching, elbowing, kicking and shooting bad guys. And yet, it all feels strangely monotonous. At least in JACK REACHER, McQuarrie did manage to show some creative flair in the action department, notably on the thrilling car chase scene.


The supporting cast is equally wasted as well. Cobie Smulders looks comfortable enough playing a physically demanding role, given her prior experience in numerous Marvel movies as Maria Hill. But as tough as she looks, there is little chemistry between her and Cruise. Danika Yarosh, who plays Reacher's would-be long-lost daughter, doesn't do much to make her character a standout. Robert Knepper, who is no stranger to playing antagonist roles, is sadly reduced to a thankless character as the corrupted General Harkness. The only redeeming factor here is Patrick Heusinger, who delivers a suitably menacing performance as Harkness' main henchman.

Finally, the story itself is a huge disappointment. All the military conspiracy involving Major Susan Turner being accused of espionage and other shady goings-on can be potentially interesting if done right. Too bad Zwick alongside Richard Wenk (THE EQUALIZER) and Marshall Herskovitz (THE LAST SAMURAI) botched that opportunity to do so. What we have here instead is a hackneyed storyline that just goes through the blind motion. If that's not enough, the pacing possesses another issue. At almost two hours long, it drags more than it should be. This is especially true during a recurring subplot revolving around the relationship between Reacher and Samantha.

True to its subtitle, JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK should never go back in the first place.

Despite the combined talents of Tom Cruise and Edward Zwick, none of them manages to turn the strangely monotonous yet uninspired JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK into a decent cinematic experience. 

* This review is written courtesy from United International Pictures Malaysia (UIP) press screening *

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