Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Director: Edward Zwick (2016) BBFC cert: 12A

Tom Cruise returns as homeless hero Jack Reacher and the entertainment is as solid as the hero’s punches in this sequel to 2012’s action thriller.

The veteran superstar’s star intensity, physical presence and light comic ability raise this above the ordinary. Always better when playing opposite strong women, Cruise enjoys himself immensely being buffeted by a pair of sparky female costars.

Cobie Smulders plays a kick ass army major and the super confident scene stealer Danika Yarosh is a 15 year old street wise urchin. The three develop a fractious family dynamic which powers the film along in its quieter moments.

While on the run for murder the threesome must unravel a plot concerning corruption and conspiracy in the army. A New Orleans halloween party adds colour to the many fist fights and car chases.

Based on Lee Child’s best selling novel Never Go Back, this is a competent and enjoyable adaptation, but as a film it lacks the epic sweep of director Zwick’s other Cruise vehicle, The Last Samurai (2003).

There’s a patriotic defence of the integrity and symbolism of the US military uniform, references to the difficulties facing females in service and a discussion of gender roles in parenting. Which not many action movies attempt to do.




Director: Andrew Bujalski (2015)

Feel the lack of comic burn in this gym-based romcom which is stubbornly resistant to breaking a sweat in order to raise a smile.

Impressively buff former lovers Trevor and Kat (Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders) are happy working in the same gym even though he  is a mellow new-age financial incompetent and she is an aggressive control freak.

When millionaire pizza-eating slob Danny (Kevin Corrigan) signs up to get fit, the professional and personal lives of all three become entangled.

Not that we care as all three characters  are irritating and lack any chemistry.  This is due to the actors failing to display any flair for comedy – despite at least two of them normally being warm and engaging on screen.

Plus they labour under depressingly witless dialogue – but as a great deal of it seems ad-libbed they only have themselves to blame.

There’s a montage which weakly parodies training scenes in far better movies.

Haphazard editing allows too many scenes to linger and yet still end abruptly.

While lacklustre cinematography is kept lowkey in an attempt to create a naturalistic almost documentary feel.

The uncharitable or the clear-eyed may describe the effect achieved as cheap, uninspired and dated.

Though it’s commendably avoids being lascivious when approaching the studio full of gym bunnies, the ending is misjudged and creepy.