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Review: Jack Reacher “Never Go Back” for dads and kids?

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 19-05-2017

Okay, so Rotten Tomatoes is giving the new Jack Reacher movie, now out for digital rental, 37%. Should you skip “Never Go Back” with those ratings? Or is “Never Go Back” for dads and kids?

If you’re looking for a Friday evening diversion and like this sort of thing, this movie might surprise you. Not because it’s a great film, but because for what it is, it’s not as bad as “37%” would indicate.

Of course, this is predicated on a few things. You have to like Tom Cruise. No great plot is going to overcome the Tom Cruise hatred held by more than a few. I’ve never understood that myself. I’ve enjoyed his charm since “Risky Business,” and while the guy does possess more range (see “Tropic Thunder,” “Magnolia”), here you get basic “Few Good Men” intense Tom Cruise with few opportunities for flashy smiles.

You’ll also have to get over some leaden dialogue. Perhaps because I was expecting this to be bad, my ear was particularly attuned to bad writing and I found it in the first half hour. After that, it was classic adventure/thriller stuff. It’s not Raymond Chandler, but it wasn’t grating to the ears.

The love story between Jack Reacher and Major (Susan) Turner doesn’t go beyond the flirting stage, though there is plenty of couple-style squabbling that will bore younger viewers. Not surprisingly, the 20-year gap in age between Cruise and Cobie Smulders (of Avengers fame) isn’t even an issue. I have to wonder though how Cruise, always in great shape, can keep up with her in all their running and leaping. Older married dads will enjoy this fantasy however.

None of the action involves never-seen-before pyrotechnics though we have classic explosions, shoot-em-ups, and 4-on-1 fight scenes. Hollywood can create this type of comic book violence amazingly well compared to television. And if you like to watch this sort of action, you won’t be disappointed.

As for whether, it’s good for kids, there is little that is very shocking versus what you’ll find all over TV. You know your own child and will have a better sense of whether he or she would be affected by the following scenes:

  • brutal murder of someone by hitting their head with a telephone
  • dead bodies with blood sprayed on wall
  • two soldiers shot at point blank range

While the bad guy does get predictably “dead” by the end, I was happy that it wasn’t via one of those really gruesome crushings or disembowelings.

Given the very brutal ending of the first Jack Reacher movie, “Reacher,” I did not let my 12-year-old watch the new “Reacher” with me. In the end, it might have been fine – he’s seen worse – but I like to err on the conservative side.  Commonsense Media gave “Never Go Back” an age 14+ rating (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/search/jack%20reacher)  and the original Jack Reacher 15+ so that should give you a good guide for your own child.