‘Once a major, always a major,’ a military official tells Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher at the outset of his latest adventure, the title of which sounds perilously like its own critical punchline. ‘You're a legend around here.’ One wonders if the line was requested by Cruise himself, since it may as well refer to his own star quality. Even when the chips are down – and as chips go, Reacher's now carry a waft of heavily reused oil – Cruise's major, indefinable magnetism proves constant.
Which is just as well, since Cruise otherwise barely lifts a finger to elevate Edward Zwick’s comfortably rote, ’90s-flavoured chase thriller above its station – even when he's throwing punches with the most grimly clenched of jaws. This time, the former army man is on the lam from corrupt elements of his former unit, and out to prove the innocence of a younger, straight-arrow commander accused of treason (played by Cobie Smulders, not quite living up to her surname, but game enough). If Zwick’s film improves on Christopher McQuarrie's inaugural, incoherent 2012 entry in the series, it's not through any special initiative on the film's part. But it's efficient, unfussy, and doesn't try to think any faster than it can run.