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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back movie cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back movie director: Edward Zwick
Jack Reacher should have taken the advice embedded in the film’s title and “never gone back” down this well-trodden path. Once down that road, surely we deserved better than corrupt military contractors in Afghanistan, also swinging through Baghdad and Basra, hobnobbing with Taliban, with weapons going missing. And coming together all in the end at a New Orleans carnival, where men chasing each other down in leather jackets with barely concealed weapons invite no public alarm. The assassin asking no sensible questions and doing all the chasing could have walked out of the recent Jason Bourne. The man doing the running is still a likable Tom Cruise, but with fewer and fewer tricks up his sleeve.
Still, Cruise — also the producer of the Jack Reacher franchise, based on Lee Child’s bestseller series — tries. There is a swipe at the Army’s way of doing things, a comparison of torture vs “enhanced interrogation tactics”, a talk about gays in the forces as well as a place for women therein, and in what is an inspired, and much-too coincidental, comment this election year, a quip on the size of a man’s hands (no, there are no specifics, just like Donald Trump).
However, these remain just incidentals as Reacher, from nowhere, again finds himself everywhere, before walking back into nowhere. The most notable achievement is the quasi family he acquires in the course of unearthing the plot involving the missing weapons. This family includes an attractive military police officer, Major Turner (Smulders), who finds herself imprisoned after two of her investigators chasing those weapons are killed; and a troubled 15-year-old, who could be Reacher’s daughter and hence finds herself in the cross-hairs of the bad guys.
The pauses the film takes to explore the dynamics of this relationship, however unnatural they are, are the only things that make Jack Reacher stand out. Smulders (How I Met My Mother) is especially satisfying, matching Cruise kick for kick, punch for punch, leather jacket for leather jacket, and even sprint for sprint (the last part, that is saying something). Cruise must be given credit for allowing Smulders that space, even letting Turner argue at one point as to why she can’t go take on a suspect and is left to do babysitting duty.
Early on, Jack Reacher introduces himself to two police officers as “the guy you didn’t count on”. Erase that. Watch Never Go Back for the girl you didn’t count on.