Jack Reacher:Never Go Back is like throwback thursday to me. Just as the trending hashtag conjures superficial feelings of nostalgia from social media fanatics, the second installment of Jack Reacher is similarly designed to appeal to fans of the genre with much ado about nothing. A good first movie quickly produced a second lite version which has dulled in action and amps down the tension. I will say one good thing though; The two main female characters in Reacher’s life hold their own and don’t play second fiddle to the strapping action hero. That’s always a welcome shift in perspective. But Never Go Back badly needs more than that to pull itself out of a mess. And it didn’t.
I’m not going to give anything away with regards to plot because the plot is already as predictable as it already is. There’s involvement with the military police and Reacher’s ties with the army. There’s talk of spying and espionage…sabotage and hidden agendas; None of which were really captivating in any way. I’d have to say the biggest surprise came when Reacher’s supposed daughter (Danika Yarosh) came into play and centres herself at the forefront of the film in most situations. Cobie Smulders is pretty good in her role as Reacher’s crime fighting partner. The female duo give the film a bolder, edgier and more diverse source of heroism when most action movies still play damsel in distress. There’s alot of screen time dedicated to the two women, probably as much as Cruise’s screen time, which is awesome not just for breaking archaic gender archetypes in film but also for the good of engendering gender equality in the industry. Kudos to the team for that.
But it’s a waste because the film isn’t really good. One of the big action sequences in the pre-climax of the movie is supposed to be the big moment to shine…to actually prove once again that Jack Reacher, if nothing else at all, actually provides some serious entertainment so people won’t feel ’empty’…but it hasn’t delivered. The final sequences were good though but it’s really predictable overall. I really felt like it was a good time to shine some light on Jack Reacher’s past given that his mysterious aura and loner vibes were cool while it lasted in the first film. His cloaked persona isn’t something to bank on for the second time because let’s be honest, it get’s tiring and there’s no nuance. Tom Cruise has already made a name for himself as the impossibly Mr.Cool in the Mission Impossible franchise, so I would think Jack Reacher would sort of be his more complex role…mysterious at first but more everyman than his MI role. Instead, the movie opts to emulate Mr.Cool without the scale of conspiracy whilst trying to include emotional scenes that neither explores,questions nor delights in the character’s life and past. In essence, it’s neither a here nor there kind of film which is a waste because the movie had potential.