Four years ago when the first Jack Reacher film was released, fans of the book series were enraged that 5’7” Tom Cruise was cast as the 6’5”, 250-pound brick shithouse, Jack Reacher. Well, fans, you’ll be disappointed to know that in the following four years, Cruise has neither grown eight inches nor has he “packed it on”, so if you’re going to insist on complaining about it, I’m going to have to ask you to step outside... so I can bitchslap you. The behemoth I described is the Jack Reacher that lives on the page, Tom Cruise is the reality. Deal with it. And to add insult to injury, the 54-year-old Cruise is described as “in his 40s” in the film. Ha!
So Jack is back. He’s built up a mild flirtation with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders, ‘How I Met Your Mother’) over the phone, but when it comes to meeting her in person and collecting on a promised dinner date it seems she’s been arrested. Charged with the death of two officers under her command while on assignment in the Middle East, Jack smells a rat and is forced to break Turner out of jail to save her life and clear her name. Oh, and Jack may or may not have a 15-year-old klepto daughter called Sam (Danika Yarosh, ‘Heroes Reborn’, ‘Shameless’) who gets involved somehow.
Cruise is a bonafide action star; this we already knew. So when Jack Reacher came along, fans of the books balked while outsiders thought “yawn!” and yet still went because of the aforementioned Señor Cruise. The film made $200m+ (hence the sequel) but more importantly it won over new fans. Not only can Jack Reacher kill you as soon as look at you, but he’s sassy while doing it! There was delightfully unexpected and frequent stoic humour peppered throughout the film and it made it stand out amidst the sea of run-of-the-mill action thrillers. But… all of that has gone now.
Having never read a Reacher book, I’m not sure if the humour is a feature, but if it isn’t then we have the original’s writer-director Christopher McQuarrie to blame for that happy happenstance. He has not returned for this sequel, leaving both chairs to be filled by yet another frequent Cruise collaborator Edward Zwick (‘The Last Samurai’). The fight and action sequences are brutal and dirty just like Jack. He delivers his cold one-liners to those about to meet his fist as in the first, but those sassy pants seem to be a bit of a tighter fit. Both Cruise and Smulders are great. Smulders proved her authoritative female kick-ass skills back with the Avengers, so this role is an easy fit. And as for the girl, well she’s annoying, as all petulant teenagers are supposed to be.
The fight and action sequences are brutal and dirty just like Jack.
As with the first Reacher film, they’ve failed to deliver a satisfactory bad guy and conclusion, but luckily for them all that stuff comes at the end of the movie. You’ve enjoyed yourself enough over the previous two hours or so, so that while disappointing, it’s not a deal-breaker - which is good because provided this movie makes more than a single dollar profit, there will most likely be a third instalment.