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I was a big fan of the 2012 Jack Reacher film. In an era of monotonous action films, it felt like a breath of fresh air that delivered an intelligent, daring thriller. There’s a cruel irony in the fact that the film’s sequel is a generic, formulaic thriller that takes little chances and gets caught up in the same contrived plot that the first one avoided. While Tom Cruise is undeniably one of the best and most charismatic stars on the planet, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a huge disappointment.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is on the move, uncovering conspiracies and exposing corrupt officials. When Major Turner (Colbie Smulders) is falsely accused of espionage, Reacher hunts down the men responsible in an effort to discover the truth. But in doing so, he discovers the existence of a girl who may or may not be his daughter.

Cruise is a brilliant action star, and the film does him a disservice. The film is focused on a conspiracy that’s contrived and nonsensical, and the subplot involving Reacher’s daughter is ridiculous and unnecessary. We never get to see Cruise come into his own, as the script lacks the charisma and wit that he’s known for.

Equally disappointing is the action. While the first film had some innovative and creative action sequences, the sequel is bogged down by highly conventional filmmaking. There’s also a lack of action, and the inherent dullness of the story accentuates it. The dialogue is also rather weak, with a ton of heavy handed exposition and awkward quips.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a major let down, and despite a great turn from Cruise, the film’s familial subplots are tedious and it’s main storyline is exasperating. As a huge fan of Cruise, it’s disappointing to see one of the most fun actors on the planet burdened with such weak material. Perhaps there’s life yet in the franchise, but Never Go Back is certainly not the film to do so. Grade: C

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