The new thriller Jack Reacher finds star Tom Cruise in comfortable territory as an extremely capable action hero trying to solve the mystery behind a series of sniper attacks. (Watch a trailer for Jack Reacher below.) But fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher book series — 13 installments published between 1997 and 2012, with more to come — have been up in arms about the casting of Cruise as the film’s titular hero, and they may have a point; the 5-foot-7 brunette actor with the toothy grin doesn't exactly resemble the 6-foot-5 blonde described by Lee Child in his novels. Is Cruise miscast?
Yes, Cruise is all wrong for Jack Reacher: Fans of Child’s bestselling series are absolutely right, says Jam! Showbiz: “Hiring a Hobbit-sized Hollywood actor to play giant Jack was a serious error.” Cruise simply lacks the physicality the character and story require. Just as problematic: The actor's inability to convey some of Reacher’s other defining characteristics; Cruise's “attempts at quick-quip comedy” with leading lady Rosamund Pike fall flat. Cruise is a fine actor, but in Jack Reacher he’s supposed to be “gritty and tough in a more ‘realistic’ world,” and he’s simply out of his depth.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
But it’s hard to imagine anyone who could play the role: Jack Reacher’s writer and producer brainstormed every major name in Hollywood, but no one seemed to fit the bill, reports the Los Angeles Times. “Realizing Hollywood is basically bereft of blond-haired, blue-eyed, 6-foot-5 actors who carry enough star power to ‘open’ a movie,” screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie and producer Don Granger decided to make the character’s height their lowest priority. Instead, “they created a graph of the industry’s leading men, grading them on the character’s other core attributes: charm, eloquence, physicality, and gravitas.” When they settled on Cruise, Lee Child gave the actor his blessing as well, saying "Why wouldn't I want the biggest star in the world to play my character?" Tom Cruise may not look like Jack Reacher, but he may have been the best choice anyway.
And Tom Cruise and Jack Reacher have more in common than you might think: Yes, Cruise isn’t huge or blond, but he manages to nail Reacher’s “meticulous calculation during combat, demonstrating swift moves determined by careful thought and aggressive plotting,” says Celebuzz. Reacher is “an American gypsy,” traveling from town to town and getting drawn into conflicts — “not terribly unlike Cruise’s chosen profession of traveling between locations getting into fake adventures.” And Cruise has experience playing the type: Reacher is quiet and emotionally distant — “a more grounded, everyday version” of Mission: Impossible hero Ethan Hunt.
Consensus: It’s far from his best role, but Tom Cruise manages to turn in a satisfying performance as Lee Child’s hero in Jack Reacher — even if the film itself isn't quite up to snuff.
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.