The first Jack Reacher film is something I never thought would end up being the start of another franchise in Tom Cruise's long and constantly expanding repertoire. When I saw the trailer for it, I immediately dismissed it as another sloppily executed action film that just happened to star Tom Cruise much like his previous movies (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol left me unimpressed and Knight and Day was all sorts of confusing). Upon watching it, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it; even my dad who had already grown tired of Tom Cruise's movies at that point admitted that this was one of his better films. Four years later, we finally get a sequel (a long overdue one) in the form of Never Back Down which (fun fact) is actually the 18th novel of author Lee Child's Jack Reacher book series. For those that don't read the books or haven't seen the first film, Never
Back Down lays down the familiar foundation from the first film in the opening scenes to refresh those who've seen the original while introducing it to newcomers. Jack (Tom Cruise) is an ex-major from the U.S. Marine Corps who roams throughout the states handling tough and sometimes dangerous jobs. Over the years since the events of the last film, Jack develops a somewhat intriguing "interest" with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) who is stationed at his old military base and has helped him with several cases across the country. Jack decides to go and meet Susan at the base only to discover upon arrival that she has been accused of espionage and linked to the murder of two soldiers under her watch. Jack's intuition tells him that the pieces don't add up and looks into the case of what is really going on, only to uncover a hidden conspiracy is at play. Never Go Back is different from the action movies we're use to watching, even the ones that Tom Cruise has done before. Like the books, it feels more like a conspiracy caper with emphasis placed on Jack's character exposition than on the action. Speaking of which, there are no big action set-pieces ala Fast and Furious or even pro-longed fight sequences like The Raid 2 or recently Hardcore Henry. Much like the first film, Never Go Back is one of the few action films where the hero is just as vulnerable as the enemies he's fighting. There's a scene where Jack takes down a baddie and falls down 10 feet. He doesn't miraculously get up; he barely moves while trying to catch his breath before the other guy plants him a kick to the chest. It's moments like these that makes the action feel a bit more authentic and Jack as a believable character. As great as this follow-up is, I still favor the first one for the simple reason that it featured a way more interesting antagonist but nonetheless it's a still a solid action flick and a great continuation of what I loved from the first one. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back warrants a viewing from Tom Cruise fans and anyone itching to see some action.
-Reviewed by Razor, 10/24/16
-Reviewed by Razor, 10/24/16