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“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” Not As Exciting

Tom Cruise stars in "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back."

HOLLYWOOD—I will be the first to admit, that I was a huge, and I mean huge fan of 2012 flick “Jack Reacher” starring Tom Cruise. I thought the film had a great mix of action, wit and comedy that worked well. I mean it even took the box-office by surprise people. With those elements, it was certain a sequel would soon make its way to the big screen, as “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” sees Cruise reprise his role as Jack Reacher, military officer turned vigilante who has some impressive fighting skills.

Could the argument be made that “Jack Reacher” has sprinkles of the “Bourne” franchise, yes, but unfortunately the same element of intrigue and smart storytelling is lackluster for Tom Cruise and company. The narrative revolves around Reacher helping Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) who has been accused of espionage, and she tasks her pal to help prove her innocence.

The action-flick which is helmed by director Edward Zwick who doesn’t have the same level of jazz as its predecessor which was helmed by Christopher McQuarrie, who serves as a producer on the sequel. While Zwick has helmed dramatic flicks like “Glory,” “Courage Under Fire” and “The Last Samurai,” his work behind the camera on a full-blown action film are limited and it shows here. While I love a great movie heist, it’s no fun if it’s obvious to the viewer what the scheme is, what is going to transpire and precisely when it will transpire.

The bulk of the film is a cat-and-mouse chase where Jack and Susan find themselves on the run and working all angles to prove their innocence before it’s too late. See why I harkened back to the narrative of the “Bourne” saga ala Matt Damon?

There are tons of odd fight sequences, action stunts that are a bit over-the-top and unbelievable. Suspension of reality is a must in the cinema, but when that suspension is difficult for the viewer to even imagine what is unfolding on the big screen to actually happen, we have a problem.  While the villain General James Harkness (Robert Knepper) is a viable candidate, his menace gives no inclination he’ll be a formidable opponent for Cruise and the rest of his cohorts.

Cruise does the best he can to salvage a mediocre script, and the chemistry between him and Smulders pales in comparison to his previous outing alongside actress Rosamund Pike. This sequel lacks the twists and turns that made the first film entertaining.  The pacing of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is also problematic as it a movie that seems a little under 2 hours, seems to drag longer. It doesn’t live up to the expectations of its first chapter, which I found so entertaining and it’s a disappointment to see a sequel that could have loads of potential falter on so many fronts.

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