Lone wolf strikes back

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (M)

Direc­tor: Ed­ward Zwick (Blood Di­a­mond) Star­ring: Tom Cruise, Co­bie Smul­ders, Pa­trick Heusinger, Danika Yarosh Verdict: Bet­ter ef­fort from a re­peat de­fender

Jack Reacher has re­turned. Did you re­ally miss him? It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter.

In his first, self-ti­tled movie from 2012, Jack bore only a pass­ing re­sem­blance to that lone-wolf righter-of-wrongs chron­i­cled in 20 or so books by pulp au­thor Lee Child.

Whether this was due to the against-type cast­ing of Tom Cruise in the lead role, or the over­all glum’n’grubby mood of the pic­ture, one thing was truly cer­tain: the only way was up af­ter such a downer of a start for the fran­chise.

There­fore the news that Jack Reacher: Never Go Back achieves a mi­nor, but marked im­prove­ment over its pre­de­ces­sor is worth not­ing. If only be­cause those in the mar­ket for a dumb, blunt ac­tion pic with no frills and lots of kills won’t have to set their ex­pec­ta­tions all that low.

If you hap­pen to be mak­ing Jack’s ac­quain­tance for the first time, rest as­sured it won’t take too long to catch up on what this dude is all about.

Mr Reacher is best de­scribed as a free­lance judge, jury and jail war­den. Get on his wrong side, and he’ll get in your face and be on your case in sec­onds flat. Jack used to be rather high up in the mil­i­tary.

Now he wan­ders the open road, thumb­ing a lift to­wards wher­ever there is the most chance of an­other jus­ti­fi­able shoot’em-up or beat’em-up.

Fresh back­ground in­tel on Jack in his lat­est ad­ven­ture is kept to a bare min­i­mum. In one scene, he con­fesses that he cuts his own hair. In an­other, we learn he never car­ries more than 50 bucks on his per­son at any time.

Oh, and these days, Jack has this gnarly, near-psy­chic abil­ity to pre­dict (a) when a phone will ring; (b) what the caller will have to say; and (c) when all hell will break loose.

In terms of plot­ting, Never Go Back is just as gruffly generic as Jack him­self.

There is a bonkers fed­eral con­spir­acy that sees Jack re­drafted back into the army against his will so he can be court-mar­tialled for (sigh) a mur­der he didn’t com­mit.

Nat­u­rally, Jack grants him­self bail, and em­barks on a reck­less run-for-it to­wards New Or­leans at Mardi Gras time – as you do – in the com­pany of a dis­graced of­fi­cer who might be his next girl­friend (Co­bie Smul­ders), and a di­shev­elled teen who might be his long-lost daugh­ter (Danika Yarosh).

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