Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”

Tom Cruise 600 × 323
There’s almost no one left in Hollywood quite like Tom Cruise. He’s the epitome of a movie star, through and through. This week, he looks set to rule the box office and the action movie genre again with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Another franchise outing for Cruise, it’s a very solid endeavor that plays right to his strengths. It’s the sort of thing you already know if you like or not, but if it seems up your alley, trust me when I say that it is. I saw it last night and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Cruise just knows how to pull off an action flick, while being a star in the process. It’s one of his greatest skills.

The film is the next in the Jack Reacher franchise. It picks up with the title character (Cruise) doing his lone wolf thing, though periodically breaking military police cases for Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders). They’ve never met, but flirt on the phone. Almost on a whim, Jack, heads to D.C. to surprise her, only to find that she’s been arrested for espionage. Sensing a conspiracy brewing, he pokes around, only to get wrongfully accused himself. Before long, he’s on the run with Susan, then with a teenage girl (Danika Yarosh) in tow that might have a connection to his past. By and large, this is garden variety action plot stuff, but it’s handled in a way that makes it all go down easy. You know what’s about to happen, but you’re along for the ride the whole time. Academy Award winning filmmaker Edward Zwick co-writes this Lee Child adaptation with Marshall Herskovitz and Richard Wenk, as well as directs. Cast members include Patrick Heusinger Aldis Hodge, Madalyn Horcher, Robert Knepper, Holt McCallany, and more. Oliver Wood handles the cinematography, while Henry Jackman does the score. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back looks and feels a lot like Jack Reacher, and that’s no accident.

I really enjoyed this flick, as mentioned above. It’s nothing to go nuts over, but in a real utilitarian way, it just gets the job done. Cruise is very good though, as this is pretty much second nature to him by now. Plus, it’s nice to see him reunite with Zwick, who worked with him on The Last Samurai. Zwick is an incredibly underrated filmmaker, and even if this seems like somewhat of a paycheck job, he puts his heart into it, leading to an impeccably made adventure. It follows the path of the genre, but with Cruise at the helm, it’s much more fun than it is derivative. He’s a movie star through and through.

Last summer I ranked Cruise’s ten best performances in a full on piece, so here’s that list again, just sans commentary:

10. Lions for Lambs
9. A Few Good Men
8. Risky Business
7. Collateral
6. All the Right Moves
5. Minority Report
4. Born on the Fourth of July
3. Eyes Wide Shut
2. Jerry Maguire
1. Magnolia

Honorable Mentions: Edge of Tomorrow, Oblivion, Rain Man, Top Gun, Tropic Thunder, and Vanilla Sky

Overall, on Friday audiences can see Cruise kick some ass in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. It’s not going to redefine the action genre or make this the biggest franchise in the world, but it shows that it’s a sustainable one. I suspect we’ll see another Jack Reacher outing in two or three years, and I’ll be totally ready for it. This is popcorn entertainment that will prep us for the final onset of Oscar season. With Cruise and Zwick, you’re in very good hands. As long as you don’t despise this sort of action film, you’ll get something pretty enjoyable. The movie knows its audience and properly caters to it. Well played to Cruise, Zwick, and company. Well played indeed…

Be sure to check out Cruise in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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