Jack Reacher : Never Go Back

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People complain a lot about killer bears, but they don’t for a stop and think for a minute how we get those beautiful, super-comfy rugs that adorn our lounge room floors.

For all his reported off–behaviour, Tom Cruise continues to give us bear rugs. Big, comfy, wrap-yourself-in-them-and-smile rugs.

Ostensibly knowing he won’t be able to keep scaling buildings or dash through sandstorms in Abu Dhabi forever, the ‘’Mission : impossible’’ star (and producer; he’s seemingly a producer on all his films now) is attempting to craft himself a new franchise out of the popular Lee Childs’ penned novels. The first in the film series, a quiet, slow-simmering thriller, was good, solid fun. Not “Mission” great, and without any real memorable set pieces or money shots, but good. Seems it made enough to warrant a second serve.

When Cruise and Paramount met on a prospective sequel, they seemingly decided the character needed something else should he return : a sidekick. One half his age. With a cute butt. “And she should punch”.

Ed Zwick (reuniting with his “Last Samurai” star) takes over from Christopher McQuarrie as helmer. This time, the ex-major turned lone hero (Tom Cruise) is out to help a newly-arrested Army major, Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), accused of treason. Convinced she’s innocent, Reacher busts her out and they hit the road, Richard Kimble-style, to find out the truth.

Joining them is a delinquent (Danika Yarosh) who may or may not be Reacher’s daughter. She’s there to milk the humanity out of Reacher’s orifices for the audience.

“Jack Reacher : Never Go Back”, with its new-fangled “two-hander” element, plays almost like a reboot. And the differences don’t start and end with Cobie Smulder’s (Smouldering) co-protagonist. While the original was a less-flashy, smaller-scale film, “Never Go Back” is a much bigger, more audience-friendly popcorn flick. Both films are entertaining, but the new film seems to be working harder to give a broader audience what they want from a modern-day blockbuster actioner (thus, the female co-star), not to mention a Cruise vehicle and character. From the James Bond-esque action sequences to Reacher’s new-found cheekiness, someone’s definitely asked for more “M:I” less “JR” from “Never Go Back”.

At the same time, Cruise still seems intent on attracting an older crowd with the series – as if trying to snag some of the Dad’s still annoyed that Eastwood’s given up the rifle and horse for the megaphone and Nikon. And though he’s no Eastwood, the always/dependable Cruise does succeed — largely thanks to his effortless ability to command an audience with volume and eyebrow stare.

“Jack Reacher : Never Go Back”, though full of more holes than a rapper’s limo, and with a playbook as old-fashioned as a midday movie starring Charles Bronson, serves as another reminder why Tom Cruise has remained one of the biggest, most bankable movie stars of the past 30 years, and why we’ll all be lining up to see him in “Cocktail 2 : Last Drinks” when he’s pushing 70.