Starring: Tom Cruise, Coble Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge

Director: Edward Zwick

118 minutes

Watching the latest instalment of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series is like taking a progressively disappointing hike up Run-of-the-Mill Mountain. Just as one ledge of cliché is surmounted, another cave full of old chestnuts blocks your progress. Ex-military loner; check. Gets pulled back into unofficial work; yep. Unreachable love interest; Yessiree. Hold on, is that a daughter he never knew about coming into view? Hold onto your seats ladies and gentlemen, we will soon be landing in Predictable Twist City, Arizona.

Tom Cruise is on nothing more than auto-hero mode here; his enigmatic superman is so derivative of even his own Ethan Hunt that it’s entirely possible to believe you’re watching a Mission Impossible spin off. Of course there are the baffling abilities of our lead to be beaten almost to death by professional killers every 20 minutes or so yet still retain the ability to run at full power, but that’s cinema. Forgiven. However, the never-endingly predictable run, fight, think, run, fight, think, fight again ethos of the script just can’t be excused. The impossibly named Coble Smulders tries to add an element of girl power to the occasion as Major Turner, even if it is rammed down the throat by meticulously phrased speeches about her battle through the male-dominated world of the army. After her questionable arrest, Reacher busts her out of her holding cell just as two of the world’s most inefficient assassins are about to do their business, and they escape together to plot revenge and unmask the faceless perpetrators. Yarosh’s terrified espionage-pawn Samantha, Reacher’s apparent estranged daughter, soon talks herself down from panic-mode and becomes an integral part of the unlikely trio of good guys. Heusinger’s cold, brutal, nameless assassin is hot on their tails however, yet it soon becomes apparent that he, to coin a phrase from Saint and Greavsie, can’t hit a barn-door with a military grade assault rifle. Samantha quickly joins the long line of indestructible cinematic teenage girls, armed with nothing more than a pair of well-worn Converse, as she outwits the highly trained military assassin at every corner.

Never Go Back should end on the hundred-minute mark; the baddies are vanquished, the evil plot rumbled, yet it unforgivingly keeps on going. For another twenty minutes. Zwick’s decision to fill out almost quarter of the film with a schmaltzy, supposedly poignant story of is-she/isn’t-she family slush is puzzling. Maybe he really started to enjoy French family drama halfway through the shoot, we shall never know. What is known is that after a relatively promising start to the Jack Reacher series, this is simply not good enough; it’s predictable, daft, senseless nonsense.

3 / 10