There’s a brand new Tom Cruise film. I wonder what he is playing this time. Maybe he is an army sergeant who runs a lot. Or an air pilot….who runs a lot. OR MAYBE HE’S A SPY! ……who, yes, runs a lot.
Ok. So Tom Cruise careers have hit the same popular cliché. It’s not like he is any bad at running but he just does the a lot. All the time. Maybe the sequel to the film we probably didn’t see, Cruise returns as agent Jack Reacher in the weirdly named Never Go Back (because he has, right?) And, surprisingly it hits a home run – if you are looking for an explosive, mindless action flick, that is.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back revolves around the titular character who is on the ropes and making it on his own. When he suddenly gets a call from Major Susan Turner, the woman who is now doing role, he is thrown back into the hustle and bustle of spy work, especially as Turner is accused of a heinous crime and wanted by several different agencies but most prominently, the US Military Police who are gunning for blood. But the thirst is no greater than Reacher’s acts of vengeance.
Cruise slides into the role with the utmost ease. The man has been on the throne of film excellence for over three decades and, whilst his boyish charms may have now aged to gentlemanly ones, he is no less the actor he was. The biggest chemistry here is Cruise and the camera: He knows how to deliver delicious fights, sublime lines, and powerful transform to tale into sheer entertainment. As for Cobie Smulders, while there is no flirtation or on-screen scintillation between her and Cruise, the addition of the formidable actress allows a different relationship to run rampant. As Turner, she is no less than him – in fact equal in force and it’s glorious to see her performance this way.
Spectre, Bourne, and even Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation have all tread Jack Reacher‘s familar territory and Edward Zwick’s work doesn’t have the narrative meat to juxtapose the gritty breaking of bones. Building up from Lee Child’s 18th novel, there are flaws in story structure that ultimate wane your interest in the film. It is catastrophically uneven in tone – trying to balance bleak and blurry fight scenes with an action movie flourish that will hamper your enjoyment somewhat.
But it’s not as if the film lied to you, and here in lies the brilliance of it. Jack Reacher is everything you want from a standard rogue spy movie. Despite trying hard to levitate above the standard affair, when it curves into cheesy one-liners and Cruise smashing people in the face with grimacing threats, there it finds home. And in the now see of super series dramas, Oscar contenders, and beguilling unusual films, there is a place for Reacher and it’s almost as though Cruise knows it. He can entertain and the movie will leave you excitable in its booming and bloody fights.
You may not like every second but there is an exhilaration and a deep character love through Cruise and Smulders (and even Danika Yarosh’s young Sam,) that you’ll want to watch.
Most importantly, Cruise kicks many an ass. Which, above all, is rousing. The film may state Never Go Back. But as an audience, if a third film were to arise, well – we wouldn’t say no…
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is out in cinemas now.