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Jack Reacher review by Rashid Irani: Running on empty

Tom Cruise is back as the nomadic detective, but in a decidedly unexciting sequel to the 2012 thriller.

movie reviews Updated: Oct 22, 2016 13:56 IST
Rashid Irani
This time, Reacher must run around trying to clear himself of trumped-up murder charges, and help exonerate an innocent military officer.
This time, Reacher must run around trying to clear himself of trumped-up murder charges, and help exonerate an innocent military officer.

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK

Direction: Edward Zwick

Actors: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders

Rating: 2 / 5

Jack is back. He should have heeded the titular advice and saved himself the time and effort of making this film — and us the time and effort of watching it.

In this decidedly inferior sequel to the 2012 Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise reprises the role of the taciturn loner with no fixed address (his most prized possession is a toothbrush).

The thin plot sees him run recklessly around Washington DC and New Orleans in an effort to clear himself of some trumped-up murder charges.

Read: Tom was a treat to work with, says director Ed Zwick

The plot is slapdash and loses momentum quickly, pushed along by a string of coincidences that beggars belief. Some of the grimmer aspects, at least, are leavened by banter.

In the process, he uncovers a major military conspiracy and strives to exonerate the officer (Cobie Smulders) who took over his old job and now faces trial for treason.

The slapdash plot — adapted by director Edward Zwick from the 18th novel of the bestselling series by British author Lee Child — is bogged down by lackadaisical pacing, uncommonly dull skirmishes and a string of coincidences that beggars belief.

Despite shoehorning into the narrative a shoplifting teenager (Danika Yarosh) who may or may not be our anti-hero’s daughter, there is little attempt at development of characters or emotional relationships.

Read: Cruise discusses his legacy and his latest

As the bruised but unflappable protagonist, Cruise still exudes charisma, but even the villains he’s pitted against this time around are sadly lacklustre.

The pulp fiction fizzles out long before it winds down at a Halloween parade in New Orleans. Some of the grimmer aspects of the thriller are, at least, leavened by banter.

As the bruised but unflappable protagonist, the agile 54-year-old Cruise (also producer of this effort) exudes charisma. But unlike the German filmmaker Werner Herzog, who played the icily menacing criminal mastermind in the first outing, the villains (Patrick Heusinger-Robert Knepper) are given short shrift this time around.

Jack Reacher: Never Look Back just about makes it to see-grade.

Watch the trailer for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back