Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Parent Review

This attempt to show the hero's gentler side still includes many violent depictions.

Overall C

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) becomes a fugitive and operates above the law when he discovers a conspiracy that has sullied his name and that of a trusted friend (Cobie Smulders). Violence ensues as the pair attempt to uncover the truth.

Violence D
Sexual Content B+
Profanity C-
Substance Use B

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements.

Movie Review

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), a former US Army Major, has left the military and never plans on going back. Yet he can’t quite return to civilian life either. So he hitchhikes around the country and uses his lethal skills to right wrongs committed by corrupt soldiers and law enforcers. The vigilante shares his activities by phone with a trusted friend still in uniform – Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders).

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Then he gets wind that the female officer has been thrown into a high security prison on charges of espionage. Convinced Turner is being framed, Reacher sets out to free her and find the truth to clear her name. However, his well-intentioned efforts just get him arrested on suspicion of murder. And when he breaks himself and the accused Major out of jail, he turns both of them into fugitives.

But running from the military police proves to be the least of their concerns. It is the criminals who are trying to cover their tracks that are the real worry. Although it takes the pair a while to discover who they are and what part they played in the deaths of two soldiers under Major Turner’s leadership, it is just a matter of moments before Reacher realize they are being hunted by a brutal hitman (Patrick Heusinger) who takes his job title literally. (We see several instances when he tortuously beats his victims to death, instead of just more-mercifully shooting them.)

Needless to say (it’s an action movie after all) the ensuing manhunt results in many detailed confrontations where weapons use, fist-fights, on-screen shooting and senseless killings are portrayed. Sometimes blood is seen, and often bone-crushing sound effects accompany the altercations. Of course there are car chases, explosions, property damage and bloody injuries too. Perhaps the only surprise in the plot is the inclusion of a teenager (Danika Yarosh) who unintentionally ends up in harm’s way. Her character helps reveal Reacher’s more gentle and protective side.

Aside from the violence, other content issues are minimal. Turner is seen in her bra, and Reacher is shirtless in a scene that has little to do with sexuality. Prostitution is alluded to and a question of paternity is part of the plot. Characters do swear fairly frequently, and a sexual hand gesture is shown. And stealing (even credit cards and vehicles) is depicted as a slight indiscretion with no negative consequences. The biggest problem with this hero is he always goes back to the fist or the gun to mete out justice.

Directed by Edward Zwick. Starring Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Robert Knepper . Running time: 118 minutes. Theatrical release October 21, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back here.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Parents Guide

Major Susan Turner has a problem when she feels men are trying to treat her like a woman. Why do you think she reacts so negatively to gender stereotypes? Do you think being a female in the military would encourage her to show her tough side? How might being in command also make her defensive about perceived weaknesses? Despite this, how is she different in the way she treats Samantha versus the way Reacher interacts with the teenager?

When asked about leaving the army Reacher claims he “woke up one day and the uniform didn’t fit.” What do you think he means? Does he still behave like he has authority, even though he is no longer part of the military? Do his motivations justify the way he breaks the law? What might be better (and legal) ways to fight for the cause of justice that the ones depicted here?