There were few people more skeptical out the casting of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher than I was. I wrote about it several times during the production of the film, but when the film finally came out, I found myself won over by Christopher McQuarrie’s excellent script and smart, sleek direction. It is a really good old-school action movie, and while Cruise isn’t the Jack Reacher I see when I read the books, he’s got an intensity that makes up for the physicality.
So when I read that Cruise and McQuarrie, who are currently gearing up for “Mission: Impossible 5,” are now set to develop a sequel to “Jack Reacher,” I am actually excited by the news. I’m a little baffled by the choice of book, though, and this time, my issue has nothing to do with Cruise and whether or not he’s the same size as Reacher.
The books all work fairly well as stand-alone adventures, but there is a larger story being told as well. Over the course of the last few installments in the series of books by Lee Child, Reacher’s been developing a relationship on the phone with Major Susan Turner, the CO who now has the job that Reacher had when he was in the Army. Little by little, he’s been making his way across the country with the plan of taking her to dinner when he finally gets a chance to meet her. In the latest book, “Never Go Back,” Reacher finally reaches the home of the 110th MP, only to find that Turner has been arrested and that he may be in harm’s way as well. It’s a good urgent set-up for a film, but it depends on the slow burn played across those last few books. Part of what I love about Reacher is his patience, and that’s perfectly illustrated by the way he never rushes, even though he knows how much he wants to meet Turner. He’s willing to take his time even for the things he wants the most.
I’ll say this for Cruise. His preposterous intensity is exactly right for Reacher. If you get in his way, he will destroy you. He is merciless when his sense of right and wrong has been offended. McQuarrie gets the character, and as long as he’s involved, I am officially ready for more movies. If he and Cruise start trading back and forth between this and “Mission: Impossible” movies, I would be entirely and completely okay with that.
In the meantime, I look forward to “Mission: Impossible 5” on Christmas day, 2015.