Review: Jack Reacher loses a step in ‘Never Go Back’

Adam Graham

Jack Reacher has lost a bit of his swagger.

In “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” Tom Cruise returns as the ex-military cop who can punch his way out of any situation. But he’s the only one who’s back: the rest of the team from 2012’s “Jack Reacher” — including writer-director Christopher McQuarrie and co-stars Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo and Robert Duvall — are nowhere to be seen.

In part, it’s keeping with Reacher’s style; he’s a drifter who prefers not to be followed and to do things on his own. But McQuarrie is a big reason the first “Jack Reacher” was a crackerjack hoot; he gave the character zip and imbued its action scenes with realistic grit.

In “Never Go Back,” the reins are handed to Edward Zwick, the veteran helmer of “Legends of the Fall” and Cruise’s “The Last Samurai.” His is a more workmanlike film; its gears begin turning immediately, but the pizazz is lost and the sense of fun is leveled. It feels like a fourth or fifth chapter in the series, not a sequel.

The film finds Reacher investigating a military gun-running scheme that gets his new partner, Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), locked up after being falsely accused of espionage. Reacher breaks her out of military prison no sweat (it’s what he does) and together they hunt down the bad guys while teaming up with a young girl (Danika Yarosh) who may or may not be his daughter.

It hums along, but it’s standard issue action stuff, and the first “Jack Reacher” taught us to expect more than that. Reacher prefers to walk alone, but “Never Go Back” proves he’s better off with his old friends.

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‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’


Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements

Running time: 118 minutes