-Tom Cruise may do his best to pull this lackluster sequel out of being unnecessary, but it ultimately fails from lack of excitement.

The trend of Cruise movies in recent years have really showcased the kind of roles he’s clearly eager to take on. Despite being among the most talented dramatic actors in the business, Cruise seems to prefer to sign on to roles that play to his strengths of stunt work and charisma instead. In 2012, Jack Reacher was no exception; a movie which used Cruise’s charisma and tongue-in-cheek humor bolstered by his commitment to good action that elevated a pretty standard plot-line to one of the more underrated offerings of that year. The sequel, although having many of the same qualities, doesn’t quite have the same savvy as the first.

This time, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) and his phone-line partner, Susan Turner, that feeds him cases (Cobie Smulders) are framed for espionage, possibly having something to do with the sale of international arms. While on his way to proving the truth, a young woman (Danika Yarosh) turns up who many people believe is his daughter, leaving Reacher to decide between his violent lifestyle and family.

The plot is the film’s biggest drawback, as it really is unable to find the harmony between suspense/mystery and action throwdown that would make a movie like this successful. The espionage stuff really never reaches excitement because there’s no tension. We know that Reacher and Turner are completely innocent, so the tension would have to come with Reacher’s decisions based on his potential daughter, and her purpose is more to be an obvious third act hostage than anything else.

As for Cruise, he does fine work in this movie, and I like how he’s aged where he looks like a normal fit 50-year-old, as opposed to the engineered Hollywood fitness that makes the more grizzled actor seem unnatural. It’s important, as well, that he takes the stunts seriously because there are some punches thrown in this movie that are completely brutal. The occasional overwhelmed laugh at the fight scenes are really the best thing that this movie has going for it; well, that and Cruise, who will continue to build his resume as one of this generation’s finest action stars. He really is a true movie star. In an era of method acting that has many performers attempting to conceal their identity, Cruise embraces his. It’s just a shame that there isn’t much substance to aid him this time.

 

2 stars

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

Genre: Action/Adventure

Director: Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Courage Under Fire, Glory, Pawn Sacrifice)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Aldis Hodge, and Patrick Heusinger

RT Score: 39%

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