Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Review

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
  • Directing7
  • Writing6
  • Acting7.5

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a disappointingly dull sequel that's riddled with action movie cliches and fails to capitalize on the on-screen character created in the previous installment. Tom Cruise attempts to course-correct what ultimately ends up being just another generic action flick.


It pains me to say this, but Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a complete and utter disappointment, brought on by a poor script and lacking direction. Tom Cruise gives it his all and tries to push Never Go Back beyond the limits of mediocrity, but it simply does not work.

Never Go Back picks up sometime after the original Jack Reacher, with Tom Cruise playing the titular main character with a familiar approach. Now, Reacher is caught in between a whole mess of problems and government conspiracies as he attempts to prove friend Susan Turner’s (Cobie Smulders) innocence, while also dealing with a possible daughter.

The original Jack Reacher worked so well because of its stripped down approach, which had basic intentions and a whole lot of old-school ass kicking. Director Christopher McQuarrie managed to make an action flick that had Tom Cruise portraying a more quick-witted and intelligent force that you wouldn’t want to cross paths with.

And Cruise made it work, because he knows a thing or two about action movie franchises (Mission: Impossible) and he’s also very good at running for long periods of time.

Never Go Back pretty much goes all the way back in terms of storytelling and filmmaking efficiency. McQuarrie ditches the director’s chair in exchange for Edward Zwick.

Zwick isn’t completely useless, but he certainly doesn’t help drive the character or the film any further. Never Go Back has a bland approach, layered with out-of-focus and hard-to-follow action sequences, followed by a completely awful chain of plot-motivated events.

Now, Jack Reacher is neutered and stripped down to the bare basics in terms of an action film leading star. No longer does he have the one-up on everyone else in the room and no longer do we seem to care about his mysterious past that is slowly becoming less and less mysterious.

That takes us into an interesting mess of a side story. For starters, Jack Reacher never really gave us much about Reacher’s actual past, which makes Never Go Back‘s odd focus on a possible daughter that much more head-scratching and time consuming.

Not once do we really care about the fact that Reacher may or may not have a daughter and suddenly the action gets less and less screen time, while this possible daughter side story gets more and more, despite not really wrapping up into anything during the film’s weak climax.

Cobie Smulders attempts to make for a worthy co-star, but part of why Jack Reacher worked so well is because he really never got too close to anybody. Sure, he had acquaintances and people that more than helped him, but in the end he never really wanted to commit to anything.

Never Go Back doesn’t completely fold against those established notions, but it certainly dances with them more than not.

The action is also almost unbearably watchable. The first film had such smooth editing and a more pulled-back look to it, which made the sequences flow and the choreography really shine, while Never Go Back takes us back to those shaky cam and choppy action days of the modern cinema Most of the sequences feel frazzled and frantic, with not a whole lot of rhythm to them.

Like I said before, it really pains me to call Jack Reacher: Never Go Back a complete disappointment, but it really is. It literally goes against everything that made the first film so memorable and unique.

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