Jack Reacher, based on the novels of the same name written by Lee Child, is a nomad who travels the US taking names, sleeping with bromidic female characters and guzzling coffee.
Never Go Back is the eighteenth book in the Jack Reacher series, which has intertwining storylines from Child’s previous novels; 61 hours, Worth Dying For and A Wanted Man. Surprisingly, Never Go Back becomes the movie sequel to One Shot, two storylines that have nothing to do with each other. According to Child in an interview Never Go Back was chosen due to it featuring a teen girl character, to attract a wider audience.
Never Go back introduces us to the main protagonists, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) and Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) with an oversimplified storyline involving state troopers and illegal immigrants, which is used to spark a phone relationship between Major Turner and Reacher. When Reacher decides to visit Major Turner in Washington to take her for dinner he finds that she has been arrested. Suspicious by nature, Reacher begins to investigate the only way he knows how; by beating up pretty much every man he sees.
With first film director McQuarrie tied up in Mission Impossible 5, Edward Zwick, of Blood Diamond fame has stepped in for the second installment. Zwick’s efforts to add some humour and dialogue are lost with only 18 mins of the 118 min running time dedicated to something resembling the plot, while the other 100 mins are filled with unending fistfights.
Although the film aims to be a Jason Bourne and an American James Bond hybrid, it comes across as a poor man’s Rambo. The teenage girl character (Danika Yarosh) the movie was supposedly made because of, offers little more than a generic stereotype. Hired mercenary creatively named ‘The Hunter’ (Patrick Heusinger), personifies a google image search for ‘hitman’, dressed in a black coat, leather gloves and a scowl. With the big boss of the operation only introduced in the final stages of the film, The Hunter is left to play chase across Washington and New Orleans with Reacher, Turner and the teen. As a walking cliche, The Hunter isn’t threatening, leaving a void in the action scenes that is never filled.
Never Go Back was not one of Child’s best novels, and makes for an equally banal film. With very little substance to the characters and no twists the movie punches its way to an ending that is neither satisfying nor plausible.
Jack Reacher: Never Going Back is out in cinemas now.
Reviewed by Nick Macdonald.