Out of all of Tom Cruise’s films, bar the lucrative ‘Mission: Impossible’ series, ‘Jack Reacher’ is the only one he has made a sequel to. Based on the novels by Lee Child, maybe Cruise thought he could build a more down-to-earth thriller series than Ethan Hunt’s adventures. However, with the tepid reaction to the first film, studios still gambled with going ahead for a second.
They should have taken the sub-title of this film to heart; they should never have gone back at all.
With a very simple story that is basic enough to follow; in 2016 a crack military major was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they did not commit. This major promptly escape from the maximum security stockade to the New Orleans underground. Today, still wanted by the military, she and her accomplice survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no-one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire - Jack Reacher.
In a nutshell, that’s it. Standard action stuff. That’s ok. Fine. The poster and trailer told us that.
It’s Tom Cruise that makes sound like it should be something big, but it’s not. For the first time in a long time, he looks old. I know he’s only just crested 50 and older action heroes aren’t down and out by any means, but compared to what we’re used to, he is delivering less than what we expect. He runs a little, he drives a little, he fights a lot, and frowns and twitches in thought a lot. When Tom Cruise is headlining a film, you expect something big - here it could be a Liam Neeson effort. Or even a Pierce Brosnan outing. It lacks the Cruise factor.
In fact, it lacks a lot. It’s VERY by the numbers action thriller stuff - a hitman appearing from the start to follow Reacher and various thugs sent to rough him up along the way. Fooling the military and using lots of tricks and tactics to evade capture. Highly choreographed fighting. Lots of running and chasing. Tense phone calls. And repeat.
And how else in this day and age do you progress a once cold, calculating former marine? Throw in some family drama. Liam Neeson set the bar with ‘Taken’ by involving his daughter, and everyone since has done the same. Brosnan. Schwarzenegger. Gibson. Now Cruise has a plot where he may or may not be a daddy to a girl who happens to be as cocky, self-assured as said suspected daddy. But is she REALLY his? Stay tuned to the end to find out, if you really care. I didn’t.
Staying to the end is tough. The first half an hour or so is not bad. It hints at how Cruise did his ‘M:I’ stuff, albeit a little more grounded. It throws in double crosses, brutal violence and lots of racing against time. But then it soon wears off and we get lazy hopping from one sequence to the next and repeating all of the above. And the ending? Man, I actually looked at my watch to see how long we had left when I thought the film had wrapped up - 20mins early. Instead we have a 20 minutes of drawn out melodrama / action that is so boring, not even the ‘Day Of The Dead’ carnival it is set in adds any glitz to it.
It’s noisy, it’s frantic and it’s just like most generic action films you’ve seen before. There’s nothing here to warrant Cruise returning to a very forgetful and un-engaging role. Reacher has nothing over other action characters, and I can’t see him progressing more with the franchise when it’s this limp. Even our villain here isn't particularly engaging - a bunch of corrupt military officials wanting to change the world and a hitman dressed in black all the time. It's like a fan film.
And if Cruise is slowing down a little, I hope ‘M:I 5’ turns out to be his last because otherwise it’s going to be a near impossible slog to get through that also if this is anything to go by.