A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the sequel to 2012's Jack Reacher; both movies are based on the popular books by Lee Child. Like the first, this is a Tom Cruise thriller, so there's plenty of edge-of-your-seat action. Reacher is a one-man wrecking crew who leaves a trail of broken bodies -- only the bad guys, of course -- in his wake as he tries to right wrongs. Characters get shot, sometimes at close range (execution style), and are beaten to death. And while there's not much in the way of blood or gore, the fight scenes, especially the bone-snapping endings, can be pretty intense. On the plus side, there's no drinking, smoking, or drug use (though a cache of drugs is found). Sexual content is minimal (flirting, a shot of a woman in a bra), and swearing is moderate (mainly "s--t" and "d--khead"). And co-star Cobie Smulders plays a strong, capable woman who can keep up with Reacher.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
Tom Cruise is back in the title role in JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK, a sequel to 2012's Jack Reacher. This time around, Reacher's old friend Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is accused of espionage. It's up to Reacher to find out the truth. The former military cop realizes both he and Susan are being hunted by a shadowy weapons contractor and uncovers a plot that stretches from Afghanistan to New Orleans. Could it reach all the way to the top of the U.S. Army chain of command?
Is it any good?
This action sequel is an odd mix of thrilling and inert: It's entertaining enough, and the fight sequences are heart-pumpingly good, but the pacing is sometimes glacial and the plot predictable. The leads keep Jack Reacher: Never Go Back from going completely off the rails. Say what you will about Cruise, but he's as charismatic as ever -- and therefore compelling. No one has mastered a steely gaze like he has. Smulders bristles with contained energy, making for the perfect partner, and Danika Yarosh -- as the teen they both assist -- holds her own.
Still, Reacher is a joyless character. He barely cracks a smile -- which, in a way, serves the plot. But you can't help longing for a glimpse of the Cruise of yore who could tap into a well of cocky naughtiness (Cocktail, Risky Business) to balance the brooding. It's as if Cruise isn't allowed to have any fun at all, even in scenes that are meant to be flirtatious (though still brooding, given the character). In a film that's not especially original, the patented Cruise charm could very well have lifted it out of its doldrums.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fight scenes in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. How do they compare to what you've seen in other action movies? Is the violence presented as justified? Do you agree?
Reacher uncovers a nefarious plot that goes all the way to the top. How are the people in power abusing their authority? What's a law-abiding person supposed to do when the authorities can't be trusted?
Talk about the subplot revolving around a teen: What role do drugs play in her situation? How does she respond to her circumstances?
- In theaters: October 21, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: January 31, 2017
- Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Robert Knepper
- Director: Edward Zwick
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.