• by Wes Singleton

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, C

Rated PG-13, 115 minutes

"Jack Reacher: Never Go Back," the sequel to the 2012 hit film "Jack Reacher" and based on Lee Child's novel series, is a modestly entertaining yet standard-issue, old-fashioned action flick that's essentially a junior league "Mission: Impossible."

Investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) springs into action after the arrest of Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), an Army major accused of treason. Suspecting foul play, Jack embarks on a mission to prove that the head of his old unit is innocent, and discovering a young girl (Danika Yarosh) who has a link to his past. After crossing paths with the law, Reacher must now go on the lam to uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy that involves the death of U.S. soldiers.

"Never Go Back" is directed by Edward Zwick, who handled the acclaimed "Glory" and Cruise's 2003 "The Last Samurai, is co-written by Zwick, Richard Wenck and Marshall Herskovitz, and should please Cruise's fanbase who can't seem to get enough of him from the better "M:I" series. Cruise and company seem to go through the motions here with few surprises, yet he's well-paired with the game Smulders of "The Avengers," though neither can overcome the stale, contrived plotting that has them on the run, hunting and being hunted.

Unsurprisingly, the action and fight scenes are the most memorable thing about "Never Go Back" and keep the film going through a lackluster second act and a contrived climax that isn't fooling anyone (and after all, we've seen Cruise take down a bunch of guys at once in so many of his other movies). Without spoiling anything, why leave a major character behind in a hotel room waiting to be caught by the bad guy? Just saying - it seems such an all-too easy set up. And yes, it's also terribly sexist to pair Cruise and Smulders together, send Cruise out to fight, leave her behind to do nothing and then have him wonder why she's all upset. My advice if they make another of these: have a woman write it, or better yet, have him spar with a woman a few rounds.

If you're in Cruise's fanbase, regardless of any bad reviews, you'll go to the uninspired but energetic "Jack Reacher: Never Look Back," which could easily apply to Cruise's take-the-money-and-run turn. My hunch is if you never look, you'll still know the outcome.

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