Lone wolf strikes back
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).