Tom Cruise embodies the meaning of “movie star” better than anyone else working today. He still looks great and effortlessly commands the screen, especially in a vehicle like this that plays to his strengths: lots of running and physical action, a fair amount of flirting but no sex.
Jack Reacher is an ex-military officer who lacks only a cape and spandex costume to qualify as a superhero. He’s a one-man Army who can take on three or four brawny bad guys at a time and pummel them all, walking away with barely a scratch or sign of a struggle.
That can be fun to watch for a while, but this sequel to 2012’s Jack Reacher doesn’t have any other tricks up its sleeve. Reacher and his military contact in Washington (Cobie Smulders) wind up on the run together, and the fight-and-move-on formula wears awfully thin. Introducing a girl who may or may not be Reacher’s teenage daughter (Aldis Hodge) adds an interesting wrinkle but even this subplot succumbs to cliché. The supporting cast doesn’t offer any treats or surprises, as the earlier movie did.
That’s all the more disappointing given the fact that Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was directed by the estimable Edward Zwick, who shares screenplay credit with longtime producing partner Marshall Herskovitz and Richard Wenk. Zwick is too intelligent to have made a stupid movie, but that is small consolation.
Presumably there is enough material in Lee Child’s long-running series of Reacher novels to fuel a slew of sequels if this one is a hit. But I lost interest in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back far too soon to care what happens to this character again.