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Film Review: Tom Cruise utilizes lethal MacGyverisms in “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”

Grade: B

It’s always nice when another Tom Cruise movie hits theaters. The stunt-loving actor always tends to bring his own twist to any action thriller flick and he’s always full of surprises. The sequel to the original “Jack Reacher,” which appeared in 2012, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” brings all of the elements that we loved in the first movie, only with an updated storyline and a fresh crop of bad guys.

Tom Cruise plays the title role of Jack Reacher, a retired Army Major who always seems to find trouble, or goes looking for it. He’s co-starred by “How I Met Your Mother” actress Cobie Smulders (Major Susan Turner), who is accused of espionage and — with the aid of Reacher, who is driven by similar motives — goes on the hunt for the people who framed her.

Overall, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” keeps you on your toes, but some parts of it are confusing to say the least. It’s fast and pulse-pounding, which is entertaining strictly for that reason, but sometimes a director’s tendency to make a film exciting detracts from what’s scripted. An audience should not have to constantly ask themselves questions about why something about the story happened or who a character might be if they’re actively listening.

Drumming up the courage to protect your friends, family and society in general is not easy, but for Reacher, it’s his life’s work. His fearlessness is a character trait taken straight from a James Bond flick; add in his ability to make a weapon out of anything and a determination to see things through, then you’ve got a recipe for a heroic action thriller.

Cruise is not the only one who should be held accountable for the success of the story’s mission. Reacher would be misguided if it weren’t for the help of Major Turner, who adds her strong fighting prowess and harsh criticism of Reacher’s ideas to the story’s plot. Smulders already is a veteran of heroic films, having lended her talents to the Avengers series and it’s corresponding television show “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Undoubtedly, the Canadian actress really kicks butt in “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” as well.

Not only is it important for a film to have excellent heroes, but it must also have excellent villains. The actors were relatively unknown, but in particular movies, sometimes that can be a good thing. Those actors who are normally known for playing villainous characters might have their mannerisms and actions anticipated by audience members, but for those who are not well-known, they can add vibrancy to the action. Viewers should certainly look forward to another “Jack Reacher” film simply for this reason, assuming that somebody decides to write another one.

“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” adds more context to Cruise’s character that we didn’t see before in the original film and honestly, in the casting stages of that first movie, they could not have chosen a better man for the part of Reacher than Cruise, who also served as a producer for both movies. Surely producers cannot simply let this series die out after only two movies, so keep your fingers crossed and pray for a third one. In the meantime, check this one out at your local theater.

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