Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
dir Edward Zwick
scr Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz
prd Tom Cruise, Don Granger, Christopher McQuarrie
with Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Robert Knepper, Aldis Hodge, Madalyn Horcher, Holt McCallany, Nicole Barre, Teri Wyble, Austin Hebert, Billy Slaughter
release US/UK 21.Oct.16
16/US Paramount 1h58
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Are you my daddy? Yarosh and Cruise

smulders heusinger knepper
See also:
Jack Reacher (2012)
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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Lee Child's hero is back for a second big-screen adventure, which reteams Tom Cruise with his The Last Samurai director Edward Zwick. Gone is the jolly-good-romp atmosphere of the first movie, and in its place we have a lot of introspection and angst. Zwick also directs the action with striking realism, which means that it's not quite as exciting.

As he drifts along helping strangers, Jack (Cruise) makes contact with Susan (Smulders), who took his place as a military base commander. But when he arrives to visit, she's been abruptly imprisoned. Then he too is framed for murder, just as he discovers that 15-year-old stranger Samantha (Yarosh) is his daughter. Naturally, he and Susan break free, tracing the nefarious goings-on to a private contractor (Knepper), who sends a ruthless henchman (Heusinger) after them. And with Sam now threatened, they take her to New Orleans with them to find the final piece of the puzzle.

It's rare to see an action thriller in which the physical mayhem isn't exaggerated far beyond reason. Zwick goes for something much more grounded, which feels rather dull by comparison. And Cruise intriguingly sidesteps his superhuman Mission: Impossible heroics to play a guy who's brainy and skilled but vulnerable, nursing wounds from his previous fight. Here, he doesn't leap to his feet and throw a deft punch after falling from a three storey building. He lies on the ground to catch his breath first.

This makes Cruise more fascinating than the invincible guy he usually plays. Showing his age, he's much more sympathetic, especially with the story's more emotive elements. That said, the script never dwells on these deeper ideas very long. Watching Jack tap into his paternal instincts is interesting, and seeing him flirt with Susan is fun, but neither element goes anywhere surprising. Jack is a lonely drifter right to the very end.

This kind of movie doesn't require an Imax screen. It's compact and intimate, with action that's coherent, unrushed and staged at a realistic scale. So the movie becomes a story about a guy trying to clear his name, and the names of other falsely accused people around him, all while grappling with some new information that threatens to redefine everything he thinks about himself. This may mean that there isn't as much adrenaline flowing as we'd like, but it leaves us more properly satisfied than the usual flashy nonsense.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 13.Oct.16

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