Director: Edward Zwick
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Robert Knepper
Plot: Jack Reacher tries to help a female military officer clear her name over espionage accusations while dealing with the possibility that he may have a daughter from a past relationship.
Review: The first Jack Reacher film released four years ago was a solid action film that takes superstar Tom Cruise out of the Ethan Hunt super action hero mold into something more grounded and serious. This sequel pretty much follows the same road taken by the first film.
Reacher, ex-army major now living on the road and off the grid, helping people whenever possible, comes to the aid of Major Susan Turner, who is arrested by military police on espionage charges shortly after her two investigators were murdered in Afghanistan for possibly stumbling upon something nobody is supposed to know about. Reacher helps her escape custody and goes on the run while dragging along a 15 year old girl named Samantha, who may or may not be Reacher's daughter from a past relationship. As it turns out, the bad guys are military contractors who were supposed to bring back weapons confiscated in Afghanistan, but apparently did not, and are willing to kill to keep it secret.
Director Edward Zwick successfully keeps the pace tight so there isn't a dull moment here. The Jack Reacher films may not have the outrageous stunts or high adrenaline excitement of the Mission: Impossible films but it's fine. It makes up for it by presenting Cruise as a mysterious former army man with a strong moral code, and dangerous skills to go along with it. Zwick keeps the story flowing smoothly, and slightly better than the first film's sluggish middle portion.
Cruise is on point as Reacher, still being able to play a full fledged action hero despite his age starting to show on his face. Cobie Smulders is equally good as Turner, playing her as a tough, ass kicking female soldier who isn't afraid to stand up to Reacher or anyone else that talks down to her. Heroes Reborn's Danika Yarosh is annoying at first as Samantha, but starts growing on you as the story progresses.
The weakness of the film is the villains. Patrick Heusinger's nameless antagonist is clearly a physical match for Reacher, but much too two-dimensional. Robert Knepper, who plays his boss, is also a textbook villain, with too little screen time to shine. There's also the plothole on how Reacher seems to know everything and rarely makes a mistake. It's like he's the perfect hero, his only flaw being unable to connect with Turner and Samantha at times.
All in all, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a serviceable action movie slightly elevated by Tom Cruise's star power. I certainly wouldn't mind at all if he kept making more of these. (7/10)