Continuing the year of inferior sequels, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back comes along to lower the bar on an already middling film series. I haven't read any of Lee Child's books but wonder why they decided on this particular storyline to pick up from the novels and adapt as another Tom Cruise film. The story offers very little in action with a few forced fights that don't fit well into the plot and felt overly stage under Edward Zwick's direction.
One of the better parts of the film was to see Colbie Smulders spreading out her career beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe to play Major Turner. Turner and Reacher strike up a conversation after Jack helps nail a sheriff who was capturing and selling undocumented immigrants. The movie never pushes any political issues with a brief subplot of heroin smuggling and only a shrugging mention of the war in Afghanistan. When Smulders's Turner ends up in jail, Reacher begins his investigation punching thugs in the face and being falsely confused.
The plot hints that it could speed up but then follows the trail of Reacher's alleged daughter Samantha (Danika Yarosh). Reacher, Turner, and Samantha go on the run from D.C. to New Orleans chased by a ruthless ex-military killer (Patrick Heusinger). The villains were exceptionally disappointing in this film and are usually the only place these films can go beyond a typical Tom Cruise fare.
The conspiracy is not all that complicated and delivers no twists, even simple ones like the original movie. The climax has a chase but at no point will viewers believe any of the good characters will suffer any harm and the PG-13 rating only hurts it from achieving any further excitement than a standard action film. I think the low budget allowed this movie to get made without any further star power but I'll be curious to see how Jack Reacher performs at the box office this weekend.
2016 seems to be a year to dump remakes and sequels that are poor performers and unnecessary as original ideas have fled to television that grows more impressive with every episode. Unfortunately, it appears that this trend will continue for years to come as joined universes, sequels, reboots, and remakes will continue for some time. It does look like Tom Cruise has some cool movies coming in the future though like Luna Park and American Made, but also a reboot of The Mummy for a bigger Universal monster shared universe and another Mission Impossible.