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Jack Reacher: Never Look Back - C4

Tom Cruise and Cobie Smulders
(Image credit: © 2016 Paramount Pictures. All)

Tom Cruise is back as Lee Childs' hero in an action-packed yarn. 3/5 stars

Once again, despite standing nearly a foot shorter than the author's larger-than-life hero does on the page, his armour-plated confidence carries us along with his far-fetched feats of derring-do.

The movie finds the ex-army cop-turned-rootless drifter striking up a flirtatious rapport over the phone with his military police successor, Cobie Smulders' briskly capable Major Susan Turner. However, when he turns up in Washington DC for a date with her, he discovers she has been arrested for treason. Naturally, he quickly deduces dodgy goings on - and, of course, he's right.

A private military contractor has framed Turner to cover up its underhand dealings in Afghanistan. Worse still, it has dispatched a ruthless hitman (Patrick Heusinger) to dispose of the human evidence. Fear not - for even though Reacher's suddenly been saddled with a 15-year-old runaway (Danika Yarosh), who may or may not have a personal connection with him, we can be sure the dauntless, ever-resourceful hero will ultimately foil the bad guys' squadron of thugs and unravel the conspiracy.

Cruise throws himself into the action with gusto, but Reacher's invincibility does take the edge off the suspense. What is unexpected, however, is the engagingly sparky, almost romcom-like bond between Cruise and Smulders, which makes the lulls in the action a treat.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.