Fans of the Jack Reacher novels are an unforgiving bunch. Tom Cruise is NOT Jack Reacher, they insist. The ex-army hard man hero as described by author Lee Childs is a big shambling bear, while Cruise is… a bit more compact. No matter that Child has repeatedly endorsed Cruise’s version of Reacher. No matter that he even makes a cameo in the latest film. Crime fans are not to be trifled with.
Whatever, Never Go Back is an assured chase movie that never puts a foot wrong. At the film’s opening, Reacher has just solved another case and having had a brief telephone chat with Major Turner (the exotically named Cobie Smulders) he resolves to call around and take her out to dinner at his earliest opportunity. But by the time he gets there, things have changed somewhat. Turner is in prison, accused of espionage, and Reacher discovers that he is being sued by a woman he’s never heard of who claims that he’s the father of her teenage daughter. Reacher is promptly arrested by the military police but it’s hardly a plot spoiler to say that he isn’t incarcerated for long and before you can say ‘with one bound,’ he and Turner are on the run and have hooked up with Reacher’s ‘maybe’ daughter, Samantha (Darika Yarosh). Meanwhile, a trained killer is on their trail…
Okay, this isn’t going to win any prizes for originality, but it’s nonetheless a gripping action yarn, ably directed by Edward Zwick, that races breathlessly from one set piece to the next, before culminating in a bruising punch-up on the roof tops of New Orleans at the height of Mardi Gras. Cruise does his action shizzle with his usual aplomb, Smuthers gets to kick a lot of ass too and Yarosh is suitably appealing as the precocious Samantha, who might just turn out to be a chip off the old block. As somebody who has never read one of the source novels, I found this thoroughly entertaining and the height of the titular character really didn’t matter one jot. And when it comes to onscreen running, few people do it as well as Tom Cruise…
If you like an undemanding chase thriller, this should be right up your street. On the other hand, if you’re a devotee of the novels, you might not be so enamoured.