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JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK

SYNOPSIS: Knowing she is innocent, when Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is arrested for treason, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) breaks her out of prison to uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy.

Review by Louise Keller:
Lacking in suspense and devoid of the kind of thrills we have come to expect from a big budget Tom Cruise action thriller, this sequel is a sorry disappointment, despite no shortage of showy action scenes and heavy-duty firepower. It's a shame: the first Jack Reacher (2012) delivered royally, keeping us constantly on edge as we zigzagged through a maze of plot twists, red herrings and dry wit. Adapted from Lee Child's novel, this time around, both the screenplay and direction misfire: the plot is muddled, while Blood Diamond director Edward Zwick offers an overload of dizzying hand-held close ups in the action scenes, which in turn fail to offer badly needed perspective.

It is not all bad of course, with Cruise upfront, fit and confident and Cobie Smulders classy as the major who looks good in uniform, army fatigues or jeans and T-shirt. Their push-pull relationship is filled with playful innuendo although there is little sexual chemistry between them. Cruise ably delivers the heavily choreographed action and occasional funny line, but it all plays out routinely and by the numbers, as a long string of one-dimensional baddies led by Robert Knepper and Patrick Heusinger lead him and Smulders on a merry dance from Washington to New Orleans. To add to the film's woes, none of the baddies are particularly interesting.

The plot involves murder, espionage, kidnapping, drug dealing and the selling of US army weapons on the black market. There is also a precocious teenager with a halo of long blonde hair, a pout and an alleged personal connection to Reacher (played by TV actress Danika Yarosh). I felt like slapping her. Not only is she irritating beyond belief, but the feigned affection she develops for Reacher plays out like a contrivance that cuts against any credibility the film might hope to achieve. Perhaps the story works better in its original prose form when explanations, descriptions and motives can effectively capture the reader's imagination.

Surprisingly, much of the film feels dull; I caught myself yawning a couple of times. Even the climactic rooftop sequence under the night sky, complete with showy fireworks high above and colourful street scene below replete with striking masks and costumes lacks the kind of excitement we crave. Meanwhile Henry Jackman's relentless (and effective) music score is the film's pulse.

Child has written more than 20 novels with his heroic protagonist, Jack Reacher. Maybe greater care will be taken with the next one film adaptation. Meanwhile, take a look at the 2012 film, where Cruise is paired with the lovely Rosamund Pike - it might restore your faith.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (M)
(US, 2016)

CAST: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Robert Knepper

PRODUCER: Tom Cruise, Don Granger, Christopher McQuarrie, Paula Wagner

DIRECTOR: Edward Zwick

SCRIPT: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz (book by Lee Child)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood

EDITOR: Billy Weber

MUSIC: Henry Jackman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clay A. Griffith

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 20, 2016







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