Jack Reacher, the ex-military loner created by novelist Lee Child, has an enviable skill. He can break limbs with ease and punch through a car window, but Reacher’s most impressive ability — the one that made audiences fall in love with him in 2012’s “Jack Reacher” — is the way he can tell his poor dumb attackers exactly what they’ll do next. And of course, they do it anyway. We all wish our real-world confrontations ended with our enemies writhing at our feet, and it’s the main reason “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is such an enjoyable Hollywood fantasy.

Well, that and Tom Cruise, who returns as Reacher, the all-American samurai who wanders the country righting wrongs. In the first film, written and directed with a knowing wink by Christopher McQuarrie (“The Usual Suspects”), Cruise’s Reacher seemed a little more smug than necessary. Here, under the straight-ahead direction of Edward Zwick (an old Hollywood hand whose credits range from “Glory” to “Blood Diamond”), Cruise’s Reacher is all business, with just a hint of anger. Few actors could play such a cardboard role with absolute conviction, and Cruise tops the list.

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“Never Go Back,” whose title only sounds meaningful, sets up its rudimentary plot with efficiency, introducing us to Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), a do-gooder framed for espionage. Though she and Reacher barely know each other, he’s convinced of her innocence and breaks her out of a military prison in a snappy sequence full of swift takedowns and quick disguises. The two go on the lam, tailed by a grinning, nameless assassin (a very good Patrick Heusinger). Meanwhile, a troubled teen, Samantha (Danika Yarosh), who just might be Reacher’s daughter, lands in the middle of the action with a thud. Still, she serves an important purpose: She gives our hero an emotional attachment that’s worth fighting for.

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“Never Go Back” is so corny and predictable that it’s actually rather comforting. Cruise, at 54, remains a movie star through and through, as iconic as ever in his white T-shirt and well-worn jeans. We last see him in that classic outfit, hitchhiking down a lonesome highway to his next adventure, just as we knew we would.