I’m a fan of Cruise’s acting and he often gets a raw deal in terms of the way he is seen by critics and some fans. The wacky private life and leaping around on Oprah’s sofa doesn’t help, but when you look at his performances in My Left Foot, Magnolia and even something completely left-field like Tropic Thunder it’s as clear as day that he has a huge well of talent that he can draw upon. He has tremendous range and has been able to translate that into all sorts of compelling and credible performances.
But Jack Reacher?
I’ve read a couple of the Reacher novels. Lee Child will never be mistaken for Martin Amis and he isn’t going to win any awards for beautiful, glittering sentences, but he knows how to make readers turn the pages and that, at the end of the day, is what it is all about. He has also created a character that – to quote the sales blurb – ‘men want to be and women want to be with.’ Reacher is something of a force of nature, an unstoppable monster that bad guys cross at their peril. His physicality is a big part of his characterisation, and I just don’t see how someone like Cruise can inhabit that role.
Dwayne Johnson? Hell, yes.
Channing Tatum? Probably.
Matthew McConaughey? Again, fresh off Killer Joe, I can see that.
Not so much.
Christopher McQuarrie has opined on the challenges of bringing Child's bone-crunching hero to the big screen and didn’t avoid the elephant in the room: the physical differences between Reacher and the man hired to play him.
“That's to confuse character with characteristics," he says, not convincing anyone. “I don't think there was a Wolverine that satisfied the fans, and there wasn't a Jason Bourne that matched everyone's interpretations. Right from the outset, I thought, 'let's get the character down on paper' and then see who's the best person to bring the movie forward.”
I’m not drinking his Kool-Aid. Hugh Jackman made for a pretty accurate Wolverine before the film shot, and I don’t remember all that much complaining about him or about Bourne being played by Matt Damon.
There is one thing that we can look forward to in the movie, without any fear of disappointment. Warner Herzog plays the bad guy.
Jury’s out on the rest of it.
Jack Reacher is out on December 28.