You are here

Compared to the Ethan Hunt character from Mission: Impossible, Reacher (Cruise, at left) is a little less charismatic and moodier and for a mainstream Hollywood action film, Never Go Back can get pretty dark and violent at times.

From left: Cruise, Aldis Hodge and Smulders in the new sequel.

Plenty of thrills and spills in Jack Reacher sequel

Tom Cruise shows bagfuls of rogue charm as an ex-military cop on the run from the law.
Oct 21, 2016 5:50 AM

TOM Cruise might be diminutive by Hollywood action-star standards but that hasn't stopped him from being cast as the guy who saves the day on the big screen.

Not content with just playing Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible film franchise over the last two decades, he is now also Jack Reacher, the titular character from British author Lee Child's books about a maverick ex-Army cop who dishes out his own brand of justice.

In the first big-screen adaptation from 2012, the gung-ho Cruise even performed the dangerous car stunts on his own.

He's back for more in the sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back where he once again cheats death a la Jackie Chan on set by attempting some of the action sequences himself.

So there is no need to panic when the film opens with a shot of the aftermath of a car-park fight instead of the actual brawl - there are plenty of thrills and spills throughout Never Go Back and director Edward Zwick, who last worked with Cruise on The Last Samurai (2003) and takes over from Christopher McQuarrie who helmed the first movie, churns them out fast and furious.

The relentless pace is probably designed to distract the audience from realising just how over-the-top the plot - based on Child's 2013 novel of the same name - actually is.

But the story moves quickly and as long as you are prepared to suspend belief, this pulp thriller is an enjoyable ride.

There is no need to even watch the first movie as this is pretty much a standalone Jack Reacher adventure on its own.

Set four years after the events of the original film, Reacher find himself back into action when Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who is the head of his old unit, is suddenly arrested and accused of treason.

Sensing foul play, he decides to launch his own investigation but that only leads to a murder which is pinned on him.

While under arrest in the same military prison as Turner, he takes the opportunity to get to her and both of them successfully make a prison break.

As if running from the law and trying to prove their own innocence at the same time is not hard enough, a hitman (Patrick Heusinger) is also hot on their trail and he is determined to stop Turner and Reacher from uncovering a major government conspiracy that involves the deaths of US soldiers.

All that is more than enough to cue warehouse fights, car chases and a climatic rooftop hand-to-hand combat which will leave action-film buffs walking out feeling satisfied they got their money's worth.

Smulders (TV's How I Met Your Mother, 2005-2014) is also a welcome addition to the Jack Reacher film series, with the lanky Canadian actress showing off neat skills in her own fight scenes.

Compared to the Ethan Hunt character from Mission: Impossible, Reacher is a little less charismatic and moodier; and for a mainstream Hollywood action film, Never Go Back can get pretty dark and violent at times.

Still, leave it to Cruise to know how to portray the titular character with just the right amount of rogue charm - like James Bond in a pair of dirty jeans, if you like.

For an ageing heart-throb who is now almost in his mid-fifties and whose stature makes him an unlikely action hero, that is quite a feat.

Rating: B-