Okay folks, it’s confession time. I thought Jack Reacher, the Christopher McQuarrie-directed adaptation of Lee Child‘s novel One Shot that courted major controversy among fans of Child’s books when Tom Cruise was cast as Reacher even though he hardly fit the character’s description as a blonde, hulking bruiser who spoke softly and carried a big stick called himself, was one of the finest and most undervalued movies of 2012.
McQuarrie turned the novel into a classical, old school action thriller that would not be out of place in the filmographies of directors like John Frankenheimer and Don Siegel. The fist fights, shootouts, and car chases were executed and filmed with lean, professional precision and edited with fewer cuts than you would find in most modern action scenes. I wasn’t a fan of the Reacher books but nevertheless I thought Cruise gave a cool, forceful, and at times hilarious performance as a human killing machine with far more brains, wit, and soul than you would expect. He had able support from Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall, and famed German filmmaker Werner Herzog as the movie’s villain, the Zec.
Though it hardly scales the artistic heights of films like Zero Dark Thirty and The Master, Jack Reacher is a steely, two-fisted flick and a great evening’s escapist entertainment. It was one of the better crowd pleasers of last year, at least that’s my humble opinion. Unfortunately my feelings are not shared by the millions of holiday moviegoers Paramount Pictures were counting on to make the movie a huge hit so they could move forward with future cinematic outings of Reacher.
So far Jack Reacher has grossed $72.6 million here in the U.S. on a reported budget of $60 million – not including the costs of prints and advertising – and $80.4 million overseas for a grand total of $153 million. According to the bean counters at Paramount the movie must gross $250 million or more worldwide to justify a sequel, and since it seems unlikely the movie will cross that mighty threshold before finally playing out in theaters the chances of Cruise going for another Reacher round looks as possible at this point as Clint Eastwood speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
The film has yet to open in the crucial Asian territories, where Cruise remains a top box office draw, so the future of the hopeful franchise now rests on whether or not the grosses in China, Japan, and Korea can put Jack Reacher over the top. It may seem like a longshot but I dearly hope the movie accomplishes the unthinkable and we see future cinematic adventures of Lee Child’s ass-kicking, bus-riding ex-military cop. Solid, unpretentious pulp is such a rarity in theaters these days. I also hope for world peace and the destruction of SyFy. One or the other has to happen in my lifetime. In the meantime Cruise and McQuarrie are looking at potentially reteaming for the fifth Mission: Impossible movie.