Jack Reacher is the perfect part for Tom Cruise, because Jack Reacher kicks ass with focus like an animal.
You probably have an opinion about Tom Cruise. Lots of people do. (We’ve covered him before here, when the Scientology-skewering movie “The Master” came out.) Lots of people say he’s too weird or crazy, yet he’s also superstar of so many (arguably) great movies: “Cocktail,” “The Color of Money,” “Rain Man,” “A Few Good Men,” “The Firm,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Minority Report,” “The Last Samurai,” “War of the Worlds,” “Tropic Thunder,” “Valkyrie,” and four “Mission Impossible”movies. He was nominated for Oscars for “Born on the Fourth of July” and “Magnolia.”
The first of 17 Jack Reacher novels was called “The Killing Floor.” What follows is a brief excerpt. The context here is that Reacher knows some townie gangsters are trying to kill him, so he has lured them to a large, otherwise-empty house.
“His back was to me. He was one of the shotgun carriers, tall, lighter than me. I fell in behind him. Reached over the top of his head with my left hand. Stuck my fingers into his eyes. He dropped the shotgun. It thudded onto the carpet. I pulled him backward and turned him and ran him out through the door. Into the downpour. Dug my fingers deeper into his eyes. Hauled his head back. Cut his throat. You don’t do it with one elegant swipe. Not like in the movies. No knife is sharp enough for that. There’s all kinds of tough gristle in the human throat. You have to saw back and forth with a lot of strength. Takes a while. But it works. It works well. By the time you’ve sawed back to the bone, the guy is dead. This guy was no exception. His blood hosed out and mixed with the rain. He sagged against my grip. Two down.”
Cruise is awesome in the new movie, based on a different Reacher novel called “One Shot.” The actor vanishes into character who beats up a string of progressively dangerous bad guys without once getting scared. If you’re smart, he says, you shouldn’t be scared. And if you’re smart and some guys are attacking you, then you’re within your rights to gouge their eyes and bury a boot toe into their balls. Whatever ends the threat.
Reacher lives his life off-the-grid. He’s a drifter, with few possessions. He likes drinking coffee and eating big breakfasts. He likes having sex. (“We tore each other’s clothes off like they were on fire. She was gorgeous. Firm and strong and a shape like a dream. Skin like silk. She pulled me to the floor through bars of hot sunlight from the window. It was frantic. We were rolling and nothing could stop us. It was like the end of the world. We shuddered to a stop and lay gasping. We were bathed in sweat. Totally spent. We lay there clasped and caressing.”)
Reacher is zen. He is The Dude, except with killing skills and a brilliant mind. He is the perfect part for a famously hard-working professional mega-star whose personal life and religious choices get so maniacally scrutinized by strangers.
“A Tom Cruise Production” begin the opening credits to “Jack Reacher.” Then those words fade and up comes “Tom Cruise.” Before the film even begins, there’s a trailer for “Oblivion,” a huge science fiction movie with monsters and spaces ships, starring Tom Cruise.
Tom Cruise, in other words, is getting it done.