The sequel that seemingly no-one really thought about, the first film having done relatively well but also quickly forgotten, made a second round rather a surprise and yet here it is: Cruise is at it again as military turned rogue, Reacher. This time around a new friend, Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is framed for espionage and remanded in jail, Reacher must prove her innocence, which is made more difficult when the daughter he never knew about becomes a target for their enemies and she comes along for the ride.
Tom Cruise has more than made a career out of this genre of film, ever since Mission Impossible, he’s become the king when it comes to a combination of action, adventure, thriller and/or crime, a full 20 years of running, car chases and crazy stunts and at this point it’s sadly just the same thing over and over, with a slightly older version. There’s one exception, which is the introduction of a father-daughter dynamic, not entirely surprisingly this seems to be something the actor can’t quite accomplish, despite having his own daughter, the sentiment and caring doesn’t come naturally for him on the screen. The attempts at emotion are weak and unnatural, there’s a visible but clichéd chemistry with Danika Yarosh who plays daughter Samantha, it all feels very much textbook. Smulders also struggles here, although she’s familiar with action due to her role as Maria Hill in the Avengers franchise, here she feels much more out of place; her performance is overly candid and forced, something definitely unusual for an actress with a generally calm and cool demeanour. Together, Smulders and Cruise do have a chemistry but again it feels like the typical interaction you’ve seen a million times before, only with a more equal dynamic which is a nice change of pace from man must protect woman.
The rest of the film follows the same underwhelming pattern, with a plot that is relatively weak and much too unthreatening to create the type of suspense and danger it’s trying to convey and much too far from being captivating. Additionally using that old fashioned and overused “daughter he never knew about” plot device is discouraging, and does little to actually improve the story, other than allowing young actress Yarosh to get in a few small laughs, emphasis on the small. The action sequences, car chases, fight scenes and explosions are pleasing to watch, they’re choreographed and executed well but it isn’t enough to make up for the other critical areas in which it’s lacking.
There are three easy words to describe the film: unoriginal, predictable and (not a word I throw about lightly)…boring. Cruise is off his game, even if he’s still in great shape for running around and beating up bad guys; in a sequel that felt entirely unnecessary, they’ve created something, long and pointless.