Tom Cruise returns to action as author Lee Child's roaming vigilante Jack Reacher in a story that sees him dragged into a military conspiracy with a new-found ally. When the commander of his old military unit, Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), is arrested on trumped up spy charges, it's time for Reacher to go to work. But his mission to take down the bad guys is complicated when they target a teenage girl (Danika Yarosh) who might just be his daughter. Cruise's Last Samurai director Edward Zwick calls the shots, kicks and punches on a thriller that's as ruthlessly effective as its hero.
The somewhat self-contradictory title notwithstanding, Ed Zwick's briskly efficient sequel marks a welcome return for Cruise as Lee Child's one-man justice system.
Yet while it sees Zwick up his historically epic pace (following the deliberate heroics of Glory, The Last Samurai and Defiance), Reacher 2 has no intention of reinventing the action wheel. Truth be told, it barely changes a spoke.
But in taking less than a minute to establish Reacher as the smartest and most unmessable-with guy in the room, you know it's going to be fun.
Adapted from the 18th Reacher novel, Never Go Back is actually an attempt to bring out Reacher's human side, hooking him up with two brassy ladies to buck up his rusty ideas of equality and responsibility.
First up is Smulders' Major Turner, the current boss of Reacher's former military police command who has been feeding him covert freelance work when she is suddenly thrown in the stockade on treason charges.
Smelling an industrial-military-sized rat, Reacher does what he does best, making a mockery of the term 'high-security prison' and getting himself and anyone within a three-yard radius into deeper and deeper trouble.
Unfortunately, their quest for the truth gets trickier when they find themselves saddled with attitude-slinging teenager Samantha (Anna Paquin-alike Yarosh), whose mother has filed a paternity suit against Reacher.
Naturally, despite the villains getting wind of this weak spot, nothing will stop Reacher from busting the conspiracy. Not geography, not logic, and certainly not the hordes of goons sent to eliminate him and his newly acquired 'family'.
From the ludicrously easy breakout to the climax amongst the crowds at a New Orleans carnival (at least it's not Mardi Gras for once), there's little here that hasn't already been done in a Liam Neeson movie or TV series starring Keifer Sutherland. Even Samantha is just a slightly smarter version of Kim Bauer.
But with Cruise in control and Zwick rarely taking his foot off the accelerator, this is tosh of a very high calibre.