** out of four
Former military investigator, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), heads back to his old military headquarters for a date with the foxy Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), but once he gets there he discovers that Turner has been charged with espionage. Reacher just knows that Turner has been framed, so he breaks her out of military prison. They both go on the run and construct a plan to clear Turner's name. A lethal assassin (Patrick Heusinger) is hot on their trail, and the situation gets more complex when teenage Samantha (Danika Yarosh) – who may or may not be Reacher's biological daughter – enters the picture.
Never Go Back is the first follow-up to 2012's exciting action-mystery Jack Reacher and it is, unfortunately, inferior. The first film, directed by Christopher McQuarrie (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation), had funny, snappy dialog, a decent if improbable mystery and several punchy action scenes. This new movie, directed by Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai), is by-the-numbers with flat dialog, forgettable chase scenes, and no real mystery because you know what the bad guys are up to from the start. And the whole issue with Samantha being Reacher's daughter had interesting potential, but the film takes the lazy – and easy – way out of that.
If you aren't being very demanding and are just looking for something to watch then I guess Never Go Back is serviceable. Besides, you can scope out the Louisiana locations where the film was shot, such as Lafayette Square, Evergreen Plaza Inn on Veterans Boulevard, and the old U.S. Customs House on Canal Street.