Director: Edward Zwick
Run Time: 1h 58m
Did you hear? NCIS made a movie!
If that sentence excited you, you are the target audience for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. If it made you cringe, for the love of God: GO BACK!
Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) has been having a phone fling with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders). When he finally shows up in D.C. to take her on a date, he learns she’s been arrested for espionage. Immediately everyone starts offering up all sorts of top secret information allowing Reacher to locate, rescue, and run away with Turner. Oh, and somewhere during that time he learns that he may or may not have fathered a child 15 years ago — Samantha (Danika Yarosh). His unprecedented emotional attachment to these two women throws Reacher into a chaotic game of Nanny Knows Best. Spoiler alert: Reacher plays the nanny. While babysitting Turner and Sam — who both do really stupid things that turn out to be forgivable because they manage to help 30% of the time — Reacher must prove Turner’s innocence and his own for some reason. Because “guilty by association” or whatever.
The plot of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is thinner than tissue paper. Everything we learn is stacked up on a flimsy concept that we are forced to accept as fact. Something bad went down on a mission overseas and Major Turner is being framed for part of it. Then it just gets worse and worse, and more players are introduced and the gears spin out of control. There are so many unnecessary details that any redeeming qualities are lost in the mess.
And we get it. Tom Cruise is a bad*** who can do amazing things because he’s a fearless crazy person and we love it. We love Tom. He may make some terrible movies — like Never Go Back — but he always manages to be the most lovable part of the whole bit. (Or “hole” depending on your level of optimism/pessimism.) Tom Cruise is one of those actors who will commit to any role presented to him no matter what. Jack Reacher is no exception. He managed to bring emotion to an otherwise emotionless situation. No offense to Smulders but I found myself not really caring for Turner or her circumstances. I only cared because — for some reason — Reacher did. I’m also going to purposely avoid speaking of Danika Yarosh and her Samantha. Because I’ll get really mean really quick.
So back to Tom! His name has become nearly synonymous with stunts. You won’t find any Mission: Impossible level stuff in Never Go Back but there are some well-choreographed fight sequences. Warehouses, roof tops, and a Halloween parade offer some clever backdrops to showcase Tom’s skills. Unfortunately, watching Tom Cruise beat people up over and over again doesn’t make for a fulfilling feature-length film.
I absolutely despise NCIS. Shows and movies that rely on one character to conveniently know everything and uncover all the clues just annoy me. My dad on the other hand loves characters like Leroy Gibbs. (Hi, Dad!) There were several clues to be found in Never Go Back that were totally unrelated. Yet somehow Reacher was able to paperclip the pieces together to solve the riddle and go home a winner. If at any point while watching Never Go Back you find yourself wondering how Exhibit A is linked to Exhibit B … the answer is: they aren’t. They only thing they have in common is Jack Reacher says they have something in common. The end.
While the first Jack Reacher wasn’t anything particularly memorable, it was not nearly the train wreck that the sequel is. This is a movie that you can add to your Netflix queue when you need background noise for your Sunday chores.
Tom Cruise is used to playing the babysitter. He had to do so for Cameron Diaz in Knight and Day. But no one knows the risks of childcare quite like Elisabeth Shue. That’s right. I’m gonna go there: Adventures in Babysitting.