When the trailers for 2012’s Jack Reacher first hit theatres, the internet was skeptical. The marketing came off as unintentionally funny, with voice-overs describing a terrifying badass over images of the remarkably unintimidating Tom Cruise. Viewers who were anticipating a so-bad-it’s-good movie got a surprise when it turned out to be just plain good.
The new sequel, Never Go Back, offers the opposite dynamic. Fans of the sincerely fun original might be disappointed. But for those who appreciate a great bad movie, this is a blast.
Cruise returns as Jack Reacher, an ex-army cop who retired to become a professional tough guy, wandering the country solving crimes. This time, he’s caught up in a corporate arms-laundering scheme far too convoluted to go into here. It’s not too convoluted for Reacher, however.
He outsmarts the entire army, a clandestine military contractor, elite squads of hitmen, the DC police force and other ridiculous foes, all while doing lots of Tom Cruise running and making minor adjustments to his permanent grimace.
He meets lots of sequel stock characters along the way, including a spunky teenage sidekick and another ex-military policeman who acts as a dark doppelganger. He growls threats into cellphones and delivers lines like, “Do you want to live? Do you!?” and “I’m going to break your arms! I’m going to break your legs!” like they’re recycled from a cancelled Taken sequel.
If this sounds bland or awful, skip Never Go Back. But those who enjoy this brand of silly action nonsense will be smiling from ear to ear.