ReelBob: ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’

By Bob Bloom

The term “boring action movie” sounds like an oxymoron. How, you may ask, can a movie loaded with sequences of hand-to-hand combat and gun battles be boring?

Let me introduce you to “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” a sequel to the 2012 feature starring Tom Cruise as the former morally righteous military investigator, whose adventures have been chronicled in several books written by Lee Child.

The first movie, simply titled “Jack Reacher” earned a respectable 62 percent positive rating at
This sour sequel will be lucky if it tops 40 percent.

In this outing, Reacher aids an Army major whom he has befriended. The officer, Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), has been arrested and charged with treason. Two soldiers Turner sent to Afghanistan to check on a report of stolen weapons are murdered during their investigation.

Reacher believes she has been framed, and his suspicions are confirmed after her court-appointed judge advocate general also is murdered. Reacher is then charged with that killing.

So, as this by-the-numbers story unfolds, Reacher breaks himself and Turner out of prison, and they go on the run to find out who is behind this conspiracy.

The answer is obvious from the get-go, so to pad out the film and try to give it some humanity, director Edward Zwick includes an unnecessary subplot. Reacher also must protect a teenage girl, Samantha Dayton (Danika Yarosh), who may — or may not — be his daughter, allegedly from a rendezvous 15 years earlier.

The appearance of Samantha does nothing but bog down the already dull proceedings.

Everything about “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” feels recycled from some other movie, including the stone-cold hit man who is a former special-forces operative (Patrick Heusinger), Espin (Aldis Hodge), the Army captain tasked with tracking down Reacher and Turner, and Robert Knepper as the slimy Gen. Harkness.

The main plot revolves around a big-time corporation that supplies weapons to the military and the secrets its operatives are willing to kill for to protect.

Cruise never changes his facial expression — which either looks like boredom or needing a nap. It’s also strange that Cruise’s face looks puffy while his body looks ripped.

It is as if his head was CGI’d on someone else’s torso.

Smulders holds her own, kicking ass, as if she were back in the Marvel universe helping the Avengers.

Every aspect of this 118-minute movie is predictable. It feels like the script was written by a computer that had been fed a dozen other action-film scenarios, and it resulted in a film made of cobbled bits and pieces from each.

This is one of the weakest films in Cruise’s long career. It is a Jack Reacher outing that you will never want to go back to again.

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob ( and Rottentomatoes ( He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

1½ stars out of 4
(PG-13), bloody images, action violence, language, adult themes

  • ReelBob

    Share your views on this sequel. How does it compare to the original? Have you read any of the Reacher books? How do they compare to the movies? Let’s hear from you at ReelBob.