One of the biggest surprises at Paramount’s CinemaCon presentation was when they decided to show some of the first footage from Tom Cruise’s upcoming stint as Lee Child’s popular crime novel character Jack Reacher, who has appeared in sixteen books to date. For a long time, the movie was called One Shot, the title of Child’s ninth Jack Reacher book, but those words were never to be said or seen during the presentation, so there’s a good chance the movie is now merely called “Jack Reacher.” Or maybe they’re still trying to figure that out.
Co-written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who most may know as the writer of The Usual Suspects and who hasn’t directed a movie since 2000′s Way of the Gun, the movie had been kept fairly quiet while shooting in Pittsburgh last year, but finally getting to see Cruise embody this character is very exciting and Paramount’s Vice Chairman of Distribution Rob Moore said they’re hoping this will be another successful franchise ala Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible” movies.
Cruise was busy shooting Obliviondown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana but he introduced the footage in a taped intro, joking about not quite matching up to Reacher’s 6’5″ height as described in his novels.
The first clip opens with Reacher walking through a bar and finding a table to sit down at, and he’s soon joined by a pretty significantly younger woman, all dolled up and ready for action, who introduces herself as Sandy. But Jack is having none of it, and every time she says something to try to tease and seduce him, he makes a retort about her age and proclivities, saying that he’s on a budget and he can’t afford her, but when she protests that she’s not a hooker, he says, “Then I really can’t afford you.” This goes back and forth a few times getting funnier and funnier as she gets more and more offended and giving us a clear handle on how McQuarrie’s great dialogue (co-written by Josh Olsen of A History of Violence) is coming through. She finally gets so mad she stands up and a bunch of guys are suddenly standing around the table, one of them claiming to be her brother. Jack doesn’t seem too scared an he continues to mouth off to them, suggesting they pay their bills now since they won’t be able to later.
They then go outside and Jack tells them exactly how it’s going to go down, that he’ll get it on with the leader first and take him down, then his two wingmen will try to get revenge and also go down, leaving the other two to run away. He does exactly what he says, taking the first guy down with moves that would make Jason Bourne proud, very violent and quick, although a lot of Reacher’s fighting tactics seems to involve kicking guys in the nuts as he takes two of the guys out of commission this way. With three men taken out in quick succession, the police show up on the scene to see three men lying at Jack’s feet as the other two guys run off, and Jack makes a remark about their impressive response time. As he’s pushed to the ground and handcuffed, he asks the similarly prone leader of the gang, “Who hired you?”
In the second clip, Reacher drives up to the earlier scene in a sporty red car where the police are cleaning up his mess and he sees Sandy lying dead on a stretcher being taken away. We then see a man, clearly a police detective, played by David Oyelowo, walking out of a building and he immmediately sees Jack in his car, their eyes lock, and he slowly reaches for the gun as Reacher’s hand is on the shift. In a single motion, the cop pulls out the gun and yells “Out of the car” just as Jack slams into reverse and drives off with police cars pursuing them. This is is where it really gets fun, especially if you live or have been to Pittsburgh because the chase really uses some of the landscape there very well. Jack is trying to get away from the pursuing police but there’s also a silver car with two goons trying to get Jack, and he tries to hide from all of them in an alley only to be spotted, so he takes off speeding across one of Pittsburgh’s distinctive bridges being closely pursued by the silver car. The two cars slam into each other trying to get an advantage over the other, and eventually they get to the tunnel that goes through a mountain into the city and Jack’s car is pushed over into the oncoming traffic tunnel so he has to try to avoid that.
This chase continues until Jack is back into the center of town and as he sees a mob of people standing waiting for a bus, he slows the car down and gets out of the moving vehicle, allowing it to roll forward slowly as he walks over to the group of people and joins them in watching the police vehicles close in on the now empty car. One of the guys hands him his Pittsburgh Pirates hat, clearly understaning that he’s trying to hide from the police as they watch a half-dozen police cars box in Jack’s vehicle. Just as David Oyelowo’s character appears on the scene and walks by the departing bus on which Jack is sitting next to the guy who handed him the baseball cap. He hands it back without a word.
After the title, we see one last scene of Reacher in his darkened apartment as someone pulls a gun on him and we see it’s the same goon from earlier and he basically breaks his fingers as he throws him to the ground.
Even though we were given the usual warning that this wasn’t color-timed or anything, the footage really looked fantastic, with that car sequence shot in a really distinctive way, similar to Nicolas Refn’s Drive where it looks really cool and different but it’s hard to disect exactly how it was shot to make it look that way. That car chase will surely afford repeat viewings. The other thing the footage showed us is how well McQuarrie is blending the use of silence–Jack just looking at someone or sitting in his car driving–with the razor-sharp delivery of the patter, presumably influenced by Lee Child’s prose. Either way, this looks like it will be a fun addition to the action genre and to Cruise’s filmography and a great follow-up to Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol.
One Shot (or “Jack Reacher” or whatever it’s going to be called) is scheduled for release on December 21. Look for more from CinemaCon over the next couple days.