At the movies: ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’ |

At the movies: ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’

Lisa Miller
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
In this image released by Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions, Cobie Smulders appears in a scene from, "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back."
AP | Paramount Pictures


* *1/2 (B-)

Directed By Edward Zwick

Starring Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Ninja N. Devoe, Aldis Hodge, Robert Knepper

Paramount, Rated PG-13, Action, 118 minutes

This second installment in the Jack Reacher film franchise returns Tom Cruise to the titular role. An ex-military cop possessing a useful skill set, Reacher is, as ever, rootless and living by dint of his wits and moral code.

After an unusually meaningful telephone conversation with Army Maj. Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), Reacher makes a beeline to meet her in Washington D.C. But, upon his arrival, Reacher discovers that those once under his command are being murdered. Convinced the deaths are connected, Reacher is hell bent on finding the motive behind the deaths while protecting Maj. Turner, whose best qualities include combat readiness and a dogged determination to think for herself.

Reacher also learns he may have fathered a 15-year-old girl, Samantha (Danika Yarosh). The more he observes her behavior, the more she appears to be a chip off the old block.

While the mystery centers around graft connected to the Iraq War, this potentially fascinating subject leaks tension like a punctured tire. Reacher, Susan and Samantha are pursued nonstop. They engage in numerous, well-choreographed fight scenes; but after several minions attempt and fail to kill them, watching the trio rally to become an ad hoc family is far more involving.

Written by Richard Wenk, director Edward Zwick and Zwick’s regular writing partner Marshall Herskovitz, the screenplay asks us to believe that Reacher and Susan bicker about traditional male-female roles in the midst of being chased by a pack of killers. Likewise, is this really the moment Samantha would choose to assert her rebellious teen nature?

Such flaws aside, these three well-developed characters share similar values, and mental acuity. We’re interested in their relationships and we root for them.

Adapted from Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, the franchise boasts 100 million copies of 20 novels sold. Child carefully constructed Reacher to be an edgy hero possessing combat skills and police procedural knowledge. By ensuring Reacher remains unattached and beholden to no one, Child can place Reacher in any arena the story requires and take whatever risks become necessary.

It’s a smart plan, but just two films in Reacher appears to want something more from life; and the viewer wants to see him get it.

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