Tom Cruise's other major action-thriller franchise stumbles with this run-of-the-mill sequel
This cinematic follow-up to 2012's Jack Reacher finds the military policeman-turned-drifter on the run with an Army Major (Cobie Smulders) falsely accused of being involved in the murder of two soldiers in Afghanistan. As if having a team of assassins on your trail wasn't enough to deal with, things get even more complicated for Reacher when he encounters a 15-year-old girl (Danika Yarosh) who may be his daughter.
Under the stewardship of director Christopher McQuarrie, the first Reacher adaptation was an enjoyably retro-styled pulp thriller. Unfortunately, …Never Go Back's Edward Zwick is a far more prosaic filmmaker and fails to imbue his sequel with any sense of identity or style. As such, the film falls some way short of its predecessor, and feels like just another routine action thriller – a feeling not exactly helped by casting regular rent-a-villain Robert Knepper as one of the bad guys.
Thankfully, it's not all bad news. Regardless of any ongoing concerns about Tom Cruise's stature (or lack thereof), he still looks mighty convincing when he's punching people through car windows. Meanwhile, following on from her repeat gig as Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Cobbie Smulders continues her evolution into a convincing action star. It's also a joy to see a female character in this type of movie driving the story and scrapping as just much as her 'leading man' instead of being relegated to the role of sidekick or love interest.
We've enough faith in Cruise's ability as an action actor to hope that the Jack Reacher film franchise continues after this outing. But future films should be put in the hands of directors who can do muster up something more dynamic.
Picture: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back arrives on Blu-ray with a first-rate 2.40:1 1080p presentation. Shot using 35mm film stock, the light grainfield inherent in the image results in an authentically textured appearance, while the encode's combination of impeccable clarity and subtle colour handling results in a convincing sense of depth. Good stuff.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: This sequel scales up its action with an engaging Dolby Atmos track. Outside of a few effects (such as fireworks exploding in Chapter 15) there isn't much in the way of localized overhead info. However, that doesn't stop the object-based mix from delivering an expansive, immersive and entirely satisfying acoustic experience.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: Bonus features consists of six behind-the-scenes featurettes - Reacher Returns (12 minutes); An Unexpected Family (15 minutes); Relentless: On Location in Louisiana (26 minutes); Take Your Revenge First: Lethal Combat (13 minutes); No Quarter Given: Rooftop Battle (eight minutes); and Reacher in Focus (nine minutes). As well as offering a solid overview of the film's production, they find time to celebrate the work of on-set photographer David James.
Extras rating: 3/5
We say: High-end AV performance injects some much-needed life into this middling sequel.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Paramount/Universal Pictures, All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 3/5
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