The first Reacher movie was a surprise, both in its entertainment value and Cruise’s ability to embody a character that was intended to be so physically different than his own stature. This follow-up, while not quite as good, has a lot going for it; and most of that isn’t Cruise himself but, by design, is his co-stars. While Cruise may be the titular character, the story focuses on those around him more than Reacher. Reacher is primarily catalyst and plot unblocker.
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers), of all people, comes across believably and likable. All of the weaker aspects of her roles in the Marvel universe were resolved in this flick. She was credible, strong, and even funny at times. And though Danika Yarosh (Heroes: Reborn) isn’t always credible, she has her moments. Despite any weakness, the three make a good team that work well together.
Two other minor characters have interesting arcs and inter-actions. Madalyn Horcher (Gracepoint) and Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton) help bridge the corrupt world and the righteous for the heroes. Horcher, in particular, gets to make a good mark.
The biggest weaknesses in the film are aspects of the script and that the bad guys just aren’t scary enough. Patrick Heusinger (Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce) and Robert Knepper (Ride) don’t terrify, they are simply stock characters. Heusinger could have done more with his role, I think, but he wanted to be liked, or at least to entertain rather than to give in to his dark side for the role.
Director and co-writer Zwick (Pawn Sacrifice) could have done a bit more with this movie to make it more solid, but it works. As the Sophomore outing for the franchise, it wasn’t bad, but they’re still working on the formula. This had some good twists on the expected tropes in the script, but could have still used some sharpening. The movies are fun, dry, witty, full of action, and have some intricate plotting. A bit more effort and the franchise could work. Sadly, since it is barely broke even, chances are we won’t see a third without a big champion to push it through.