Tom Cruise follows up his 2012 outing as freelance righter of wrongs Jack Reacher with another round of bruising vigilante action. And once again, despite standing nearly a foot shorter than author Lee Child’s larger-than-life hero does on the page, his armour-plated confidence let’s us go along with far-fetched feats of derring-do that would put a caped superhero to shame.
Notwithstanding Cruise’s indomitable bravado, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back remains a fairly routine adventure. The movie finds the ex-army cop turned rootless drifter striking up a flirtatious rapport over the phone with his military police successor, Cobie Smulders’ briskly capable Major Susan Turner. However, when he turns up in Washington DC for a date with her, he discovers she has been arrested for treason. Naturally, he quickly deduces dodgy goings on. He’s right, of course. A private military contractor, Parasource, has framed Turner to cover up its underhand dealings in Afghanistan. Worse still, it has dispatched a ruthless hitman (Patrick Heusinger) to dispose of the human evidence.
Fear not. Even though he’s suddenly been saddled with a 15-year-old runaway (Danika Yarosh), who may or may not be his biological daughter, we can be sure the dauntless, ever-resourceful Reacher will ultimately foil the bad guys’ squadron of thugs and unravel the conspiracy. And that very predictability is the film’s biggest problem. Cruise throws himself into the action with gusto, but Reacher’s invincibility does take the edge off the suspense. What is unexpected, however, is the engagingly sparky, almost romcom-like bond between Cruise and Smulders, which makes the lulls in the action a treat.