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Non-Review Review: Jack Reacher – Never Go Back

It is a strange experience, to watch one’s action hero icons grow up.

Tom Cruise is approaching fifty five years of age, although Jack Reacher: Never Go Back convincing places his character in his “mid-forties.” Watching the film, this feels entirely reasonable. Cruise is still a lean, mean, action-film-making machine with a dynamism that would put many younger stars to shame. If Tom Cruise isn’t in peak physical condition, he cannot be far off. Watching Never Go Back, it is not Cruise himself that gives the game away. The leading man is as limber as ever, energised at just the thought of another impressive stunt sequence.

You know where to Reacher me, if you have to.

You know where to Reacher me, if you have to.

It is the memory of Tom Cruise that gives the game away. Studies suggest that the peak age for cinema attendance is still somewhere between eighteen and forty. Tom Cruise would have been headlining films long before many modern movie-goers started attending the cinema with any real frequency. From Risky Business to Legend to Top Gun, Cruise has been a cinematic fixture for over three decades. That is a remarkable accomplishment, serving as something of a cultural constant.

For most of its runtime, Never Go Back feels very much like a middling demonstration of Cruise’s action movie bona fides. Like Jack Reacher, this is a standard actioner without the confident direction that has elevated Tom Cruise’s best work of the past few years. However, Never Go Back comes alive in those fleeting moments where it brushes against the idea of its leading man facing adulthood, positioning itself as a weird movie about a nineties action movie hero who inexplicably finds himself saddled with a makeshift family.

Literal life line.

Literal life line.

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