By Dara Boyle
This October saw Tom Cruise arrive on cinema screens for his second outing as the enigmatic titular character in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
The decision to cast Cruise as Lee Child’s beloved ex-military tough guy for the prequel back in 2012 was a controversial one. Many fans of the bestselling series of novels expressed their distaste at the diminutive actor stepping into the sizeable shoes of the 6’5’’ 250lb man they had come to know from the books.
Viewers who are willing to set this aside however, will find that Cruise lends himself to the part surprisingly well, and recreates Child’s character with thoroughness, even more so than in the first movie. Tough, taciturn, practical and sharp, Reacher is like a more alienated, yet equally quick-witted John McClane, and Cruise plays the part well.
Soon after the opening sequence, the film takes off at high speed, the plot unfolding with minimal fuss. The dialogue is snappy and there is no shortage of action sequences and new developments, letting the film fill out its running time of almost two hours without becoming tedious.
Never Go Back risks being formulaic in its approach to the action-thriller genre. It packs in all of the ingredients you would probably expect to find: gunfights, fistfights, high-octane chases and tense standoffs. However, in doing so, it succeeds in being good at what it set out to be – a no-nonsense, exciting movie made simply to entertain rather than alter the viewer’s perspective on life.
“I’m used to working alone. I’m used to being alone.” This is Jack Reacher’s explanation for his seeming discomfort with the idea of forming personal relationships. He is a lone wolf who is much more at home playing a game of wits with a dangerous adversary than trying to express himself. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect to feel a great deal of emotional connection with him. Although he is a character you grow to respect, you may find you scarcely understand Reacher any better after watching the film than you did at the beginning.
Cruise is joined on-screen by a largely forgettable supporting cast. Cobie Smulders and Danika Yarosh hold their own for the most part, helping to some degree to bring out the human side of the movie’s central figure, but Never Go Back is a film built not on deep, well-developed characters or relationships, but on simple, straightforward action.
To sum it up, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is an unpretentious action movie that is sure to provide a couple of hours of distraction without challenging the viewer too much. The verdict: 3.5 stars.