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Review - 'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back'

Review - 'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back'

Throughout the entirety of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, I couldn't stop thinking about how half-baked it all seemed compared to its predecessor. The first Jack Reacher wasn't a great film per se, but it had an investing central mystery, an unforgettable evil villain in the form of Werner Herzog, action set-pieces that valued practicality over weightless bombast and even an inviting noir-ish atmosphere to tie it all together. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back abandons many of the traits that made the previous film enjoyable.

Edward Zwick's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back follows, you guessed it, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) who takes matters into his own hands when he is informed that his partner and friend (Cobie Smulders) has been accused of espionage.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back's ultimate undoing is its story. The plot here is nowhere near as compelling as the mystery surrounding the series of murders in the first Reacher film. It also doesn't help that director Edward Zwick falls back on a number of action movie cliches throughout the entire run-time of the film. I never once questioned what was going to happen next in the story because of its highly predictable nature. 

One of the few bright spots in the film are its two leads. Tom Cruise is always reliable and turns in another solid performance, even if he's pretty much the same here as he is in most of his movies. Cobie Smulders is also good here; she plays a tough character that gets some truly kick-ass moments that make here the perfect companion for the brutish Reacher. The same can not be said for the villains. The bad guys featured here are the definition of "cookie-cutter" and there motives could not be any less interesting. Finally, there's Danika Yarosh, who plays Jack Reacher's supposed daughter, Samantha Dayton. I found her character to be obnoxious and unnecessary. I know teens are supposed to be annoying, but that's not what I signed up for when I bought a ticket to see Jack Reacher. Zwick also recycles that tired plot device where Reacher, Turner and Dayton serve as a dysfunctional family and it's just not what this movie needed at all. 

Even with all of the problems this film has, it still could have been redeemed by at least having a sense of what makes an effective action sequence. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back features competent action sequences, but there's nothing inventive or new about them at all. There's only one hand-to-hand fight here that had my full attention, and it's a brief scrap at the end where Reacher lays into a man with unbridled force. I was also kind of put-off by the fact that there were no memorable car-chases here, only fits-and-starts that don't really lead to anything.

From a filming standpoint, Edward Zwick keeps everything in focus, though it doesn't really matter when a film looks as bland as this one does. The almost noir-ish look of the first one is completely stripped and replaced with a look that could be compared to a TV procedural. The editing is also kind of all-over-the-place and there are some odd transitions where you can tell they cut out some scenes just to speed things along. I could still follow what was happening, it was just frustrating to have moments cut short where I would have liked a little more explanation.

Despite everything wrong with this production, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is still a serviceable enough film, but it's not worth the trip to the theater unless you are a Tom Cruise die-hard. I love Tom Cruise as much as the next guy, but this movie struggled to keep my interest and didn't present anything unique to distinguish itself from its peers. 

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