More noise than signal

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

It’s almost mandatory to start a review of this film talking about how it’s a sequel that nobody wanted, but, well, I wanted this. Not that the first film was masterpiece, but it was an unrelentingly solid mid-budget criminal investigation procedural of the sort that have gone somewhat out of fashion of late, what with the retreat to the super-budgeted tent-pole or no-budget Indy films that seem to make up the current cinema landscape. I remember thinking I could very much stand to see one of these films every couple of years.

We rejoin Reacher (Thommo Cruise) drifting his way across the United States like some sort of ex-military police Littlest Hobo, occasionally calling in to chat with the new occupant of his old command, Major Susan Turner. Before long Reacher has decided to head back to Washington to meet her, but by the time he’s hitch-hiked his way across country, she’s been arrested for involvement in the deaths of two soldiers in Afghanistan. After a meeting with her lawyer, Reacher believes that she is being framed for this crime and resolves to break her out of prison.

Things soon escalate, with Reacher framed for the murder of that there lawyer and tailed by operatives of a PMC who, Turner confirms, were under suspicion of being-up-to-no-good and were being investigated by them there murdered soldiers. In order to clear their names, Reacher and Turner must work out exactly what major badness the PMC are up to, all the while dodging the PMC goons and the rather more competent assassin that are on their tail.

To make things a little more complicated, Reacher had been informed that a paternity suit had been filed against him while he was on walkabout, and his visit to see Samantha (Danika Yarosh) before this got quite so dangerous has inadvertently painted a target on his possible daughter, so he must also wrangle an occasionally petulant teen through this gauntlet while trying to relate to her.

It’s all, in the politest possible sense, quite unremarkable. Which is not the same as unenjoyable, but in the unlikely event you were expecting anything other than a competent genre outing you will be disappointed. Also, perhaps we need to have a word about managing your expectations, as even its most enthusiastic trailer isn’t selling this as anything other than a competent genre outing.

Cruise can do this sort of role in his sleep, and in this instance he largely has, albeit with enough flashes of charisma in the relationships with Smulders and Yarosh to keep things watchable throughout, and the action sequences are crisply handled. Similarly the narrative showers itself in competence, although it’s not really doing anything at all original.

It is, as you may have gathered by this point, a difficult film to be overly enthusiastic about, however it’s still a film I enjoyed well enough when watching. I imagine, much like its predecessor, I will never think about it again once we’re done with this podcast, and there’s many better films out there, but this is a perfectly acceptable procedural to parade in front of your eyeballs should you be in the mood for it. Mild recommendation.