Action is definitely one of the favorite film genres. Seldom have there been action oriented films that have failed to satiate the audiences’ hunger for high octane stunts and break neck speed chase sequences. This week, we see the release of yet another action flick with the Tom Cruise starrer JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK up for release. However, will the film which is a follow up to the 2012 film JACK REACHER impress, or will it like those few actioners be lost to the annals of time... is what we analyse.
JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK sets off four years after the events of the first film, when Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is returning to the headquarters of his old military unit. He comes to meet Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) who he has been working with him on solving cases across the country. Upon his arrival, he is informed that Turner is accused of espionage. Now, Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear Turner’s name. In his pursuit to find the truth, Reacher finds himself becoming a victim to the all-encompassing conspiracy that threatens to not just kill him but everyone else involved, including his illegitimate daughter that he has no idea of. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.
The film starts off with the introduction of Reacher who has just incapacitated four men single handed and is blissfully sipping his coffee in a diner. Upon his arrest by the local police, he informs them of an illegal smuggling racket whose main accused is the local sheriff. With the plot uncovered in minutes and Reacher walking out as a free man, he decides to make his way back to Washington DC in an attempt to meet and court Major Susan Turner. However, once he reaches DC, Reacher learns that Turner has been arrested and is awaiting court martial. In an attempt to clear her name, Reacher involves himself with the investigation that draws him further into the net, while painting a target on his back. While the basic plot of the film is nothing new from the first film, it does have potential to be applauded as a thrilling action film replete with stunts, hand to hand combat sequences, high speed car chases and red hot bullet flying sequences. Unfortunately, though the film does have all of the mentioned sequences, they are few and far between, leaving the audience constantly wanting more.
If the lack of action wasn’t enough, the inclusion of a family angle that Reacher doesn’t know about, and has to uncover makes him less impenetrable from the first film that featured him as a lone wolf. This deviation gives Cruise’s character a more grounded feel, making him come across as more vulnerable and a bit at sea when it comes to planning his moves forward. If that wasn’t enough the fact that JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK reunites Cruise with director Edward Zwick after THE LAST SAMURAI, the viewer anticipates an engrossing narrative that will capture their attention, but here again the film lags. In fact the overall narration seems hastened with the story seeming like any run of the mill action flicks. However, the dialogues though which are a hit and miss series, do inject a bit of humour into the on screen proceedings, but again do not make up for much.
Talking about the performances, Tom Cruise who has become synonyms for reprising action avatars in films does a decent job with the character of Jack Reacher. However, the actor seems to be at the fag end of his action career that comes across as a bedraggled 50+ individual still trying to put in that extra mile at being fit. Cobie Smulders as Major Susan Turner, despite her attempt to feature as a major player in the film with her anti-sexism rant still gets relegated to the background since the film’s main focus is and will be Jack Reacher. However, Smulders does a good enough job in her limited profile that could otherwise have been given much more interesting depth. Danika Yarosh as the teenager Samantha Dayton, Reacher’s unknown daughter, does not do a great job of establishing a connect with the audience. In fact, her portrayal of a distressed rebellious teen who has been shuttling from one foster home to another does not come out. As for the rest of the cast that features Robert Knepper as General Harkness the mastermind and Patrick Heusinger as The Hunter, who is bent on converting his task of eliminating the loose ends into a completion with Reacher are underused.
On the whole, JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK does not offer anything new. It's a slow paced film that fails to give the adrenaline rush that is expected from a Tom Cruise starrer.