Werner Herzog will try to kill Tom Cruise in first Reacher movie ‘One Shot’

I’ve been saying for years that Werner Herzog strikes me as a Bond villain in search of a movie, and now, it appears he’s going to be playing the main bad guy in “One Shot,” the first film adapted from the wildly popular series of novels about Jack Reacher written by Lee Childs.

I’ve written already about my irritation at the casting of Tom Cruise in the role of Jack Reacher, and no matter what Lee Childs says, I can’t get past it.  I think the Reacher series is one of my favorite ongoing modern pulp series, and a big part of that is the sheer pleasure that happens when big giant Jack Reacher decides it’s time to rain some hurt down on some deserving scumbag.  And as written, Reacher is a giant.  He’s a huge hulking brute of a guy, and there is much time and energy spent describing him that way and making sure that pays off in the way confrontations unfold in the books.

I like Tom Cruise.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think he’s fun to watch, and in the right roles, he is absolutely iconic.  But he’s not Jack Reacher as written.

I guess the only way for me to enjoy “One Shot” is to just leave the books at the door.  Pretend I have never read anything about Reacher.  If I can do that, I might end up enjoying the film, especially with Herzog onboard now to play the Zec, a mysterious figure who spends much of the book as a voice on the phone.  That’s a perfect use of Herzog, who’s got one of my favorite voices in the world of film.

And, look, I’m rooting for Christopher McQuarrie.  I like him as a writer.  I think the film “The Way Of The Gun” is underrated and worthwhile, and he makes an interesting director.  He’s got taste.  He’s smart about the way he approaches material.  And the rest of his cast for “One Shot” is coming together well.  Richard Jenkins and Robert Duvall make for one hell of a supporting cast, and Cruise will find himself working with Rosamund Pike to stop a sniping spree that may or may not be random.  The police arrest a guy who claims he is innocent, and he’s the one who tells them to find Reacher so he can help figure things out.

For those who haven’t read the books, Reacher is a former Military Investigator, a career Army guy who got out when the military started downsizing.  He decided to learn about America by wandering with no fixed address, a conceit which allows him to stumble into all sorts of trouble from novel to novel.  He’s a great investigator with a bear trap of a mind, an infallible sense of intuition, and the physical ability to pretty much beat holy hell out of anyone he puts his hands on.

The Herzog character is an interesting one, and I’m curious to see the choices McQuarrie’s made in bringing the book to the screen.  We’ve got a long time to wait, though, since Paramount’s picked a release date for this one that’s well over a year away.

“One Shot” will hit theaters February 8, 2013.