I’m a big fan of Tom Cruise. He is a real old-fashioned film star, generous with his fans on the red carpet and with real star power at the box office. And I can happily sit down in front of just about any one of his DVD’s time and time again and still enjoy it. Unlike many critics, I even enjoyed his last outing as Jack Reacher.
Unfortunately, and it pains me to say this but, his latest outing – “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” – is a bit dull.
Lee Child’s Reacher has many years before turned his back on his military past and wanders the country as a drifter righting wrongs outside of the law. In this film, his military past again makes a major (“No, ex-Major”) intrusion into his life. Potential love interest Major Susan Turner (Colbie Smulders, from the “Avengers” world) is arrested on trumped-up espionage charges and Cruise sets out to clear her name. Along the way he accidentally (and rather too conveniently for the plot) discovers that a paternity suit has been filed against him and Reacher confronts the rebellious and light-fingered teenager Samantha (Danika Yarosh, aged 18 playing 15).
Unfortunately the big-cheeses involved in the international arms skulduggery are determined to tie up each and every loose end in their intrigue, and that includes Reacher, Turner and young Samantha by association. Needless to say, the villains – led by a one-man killing machine (Patrick Heusinger) – haven’t counted on Reacher’s ‘particular set of skills’.
My problem with the film (after an entertaining opening) is that the screenplay lumbers from standard thriller set-piece to standard thriller set-piece in a highly predictable way. It’s as if the scripts from 20 different films have been stuck in a blender. Shadowy arms dealing shenanigans: check; Cute teenager in peril: check; Gun fight on a dockside: check; Rooftop chase: check.
Are all the individual set-pieces decently done? Yes, sure. But the combination of these bits of action tapas really don’t add up to a satisfying meal. The story arc is almost non-existent as there is no suspense in the ‘investigation’: the plot is all pretty well laid out for you.
Where there is some fun to be had is in the play-off between the born-leader Reacher and the born-leader Turner, both trying to be top-dog in the decision making. The romantic connection between the leads seems almost plausible despite their 20 (TWENTY!) year age difference: this is more down to how incredibly good Cruise still looks at age 54 (damn him!). Turner makes a good female role-model right up to the point where there is a confrontation in a hotel room and Turner backs down: despite Cruise being the “hero” it would have been nice for female equality for this face-off to have gone the other way.
The director is Edward Zwick, who helmed Cruise’s more interesting movie “The Last Samurai”.
The trailer started off well and then progressed into general mediocrity. Unfortunately – for me at least – the film lived up to the trailer. Watchable, but not memorable.
Fad Rating: FFF.