|'The minor crimes here read like a regular rap sheet of your common variety B-movie, which, for a time, this resembles more closely than it may previously have been possible to believe.'|
Jack Reacher and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back had exactly the same budget, according to the data held by IMDb. What that creates is a fascinating case study in the difference changing key personnel can make to your end production. If only Paramount had changed but one of their director, writer and cinematographer for the series. You would have had as close as it is possible to get to an objective celluloid case study but, alas, with such creative changes en masse it is hard to know where to lay the blame for this offering.
Never Go Back's major crime is that it feels remarkably cheap. Sure, visual quality does not always represent overall quality, but when something looks like a Sunday evening serial (think: Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D quality) it's hard to reflect that everyone is trying their hardest. If Never Go Back was a business card, signifying the quality of the business it represented, it would be a cheaply laminated, stained piece of cardboard, with faint crayon scribbles attempting to convey the key information.
The minor crimes here read like a regular rap sheet of your common variety B-movie, which, for a time, this resembles more closely than it may previously have been possible to believe. The script and story meander all over the place, taking in a junkie ex-consultant and sundry other characters who seem to have ill-defined missives to contribute to a plot which feels as vacant as Reacher's stare. The movement between acts is largely accomplished via a heavy dose of new character Sam's (Danika Yarosh) whining and poor choices and lots of Reacher (Tom Cruise) and Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) running across open areas, doing their best impersonation of Robert Langdon and assorted sidekicks. It rarely feels purposeful. It almost always feel like woeful filler.
Whilst Cruise can sell sub-par material he really needs support to do so. Smulders does not advance her big screen credentials, Yarosh's character is too thinly sketched to pass judgement (but she does herself no favours) and villain Patrick Heusinger manages to out-Jai Courtney, Jai Courtney. It's a far cry from the original's boast of Cruise, Werner Herzog, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo. The casting director seems to have changed too so I guess you can add another variable to the science experiment.
There are few redeeming features. The typical 'nameless man' Reacher introduction is nice and for a time the movement is probably just about fast enough to convince you something is happening that's worthwhile. But too soon after that you're treated to a terrible montage of Reacher's awkward wooing of Turner. Then, later, you're being reintroduced to Espin (Aldis Hodge) and realising you were meant to be interested in him, before being offered the aforementioned least convincing junkie of all time, followed by a plot that's not far behind that description. It's amateur hour and, whatever your thoughts on the first Reacher, you at least can't accuse the 2012 Reacher offering of that.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was streaming via TalkTalk TV Store.