It takes a lot to get me annoyed with Hollywood, but the announcement of Jack Reacher 2 pretty much does it. Why, why should they do it again? Didn’t they ruin it enough the first time? My love and loyalty towards the Jack Reacher novels written by Lee Child makes me cringe at the thought of seeing it turned into a paler version on the big screen, once again. But even if I wasn’t someone who had read the books, the decision of shooting Jack Reacher 2 would still not make much sense. Let’s just run through the points.
a) Mediocre box-office performance: Jack Reacher had opened in North America in December 2012 with $15.2 million collections on the first weekend. Such an opening for a $60 million budget film would have elated no one. The month of December however usually sees very modest falls in subsequent weeks, and so Jack Reacher managed a $80 million domestic tally overall. Thanks mainly to Tom Cruise’s global appeal, it had a better collection of $138 million from foreign markets, which puts the worldwide tally at $218 million. Factoring in the marketing costs and the share of the exhibitors, the production studio would have managed to earn some profits, though nothing spectacular which would have guaranteed a sequel. I guess the desire to build franchises is overwhelming in Hollywood at the moment, and so even a dollar in profit is good enough to pursue with a sequel.
b) Mediocre reviews: The movie was not criticized by all, as I expected it to be, but it still was deemed nothing more than mediocre by the critics. It holds a 62% score on Rottentomatoes, though I do not argue with you on the point that many worse reviewed movies have triggered the beginnings of a franchise. But my point is that this movie does not carry any strong word-of-mouth on the back of which there would be a bigger audience for the sequel. Rather, it looks like a wild attempt to keep the ball rolling and see where it goes.
c) Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher: It was the biggest talking point when the casting had been announced, and it still annoys me till today. The fact that Tom Cruise is a foot shorter than the fictional Jack Reacher, is the least of the problems. After all, even Hugh Jackman is a foot taller than Wolverine of the comics, but he gets the snarl right, doesn’t he? Tom Cruise does not capture the persona of Jack Reacher. A fantastic actor Cruise may be, but he ain’t Jack Reacher material. He does not have that kind of an attitude of indifference, that army touch to his looks, those eyes of someone who can kill with ease, that investigative approach. He can put up something close to what Reacher would be, but he is still miles away from the Reacher I want to see on screen. If you do not get the character of Reacher right, you are missing the whole point behind this series. Tom Cruise is reprising his role in the sequel; I just wish he chooses to go by another name.
Deadline reports that Ed Zwick has been approached to work on the sequel, and that seems to provide some ray of hope. It is less to do with Zwick, and more to do with the fact that there would be a change of director which can freshen things up. I found Christopher McQuarrie’s work as a director and writer for Jack Reacher to be below average; frankly, if you were a fan of the books, you would term the movie ‘terrible’. McQuarrie though was involved in the brilliant screenplay of Edge of Tomorrow, and is the director for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, so I do not know why the work in Jack Reacher lacked similar levels of excitement. On the other hand, Ed Zwick has worked on some gritty movies like The Siege, The Last Samurai, the brilliant Blood Diamond and Defiance. Zwick could bring some kind of toughness and sharpness to Jack Reacher 2, though we have to remind ourselves that the deal with Paramount is yet to be officially announced.
The sequel will be based on one of the latest books of Lee Child titled Never Go Back. In the book, Jack Reacher travels to Virginia to meet Susan, a female military officer who has been helping him, via telephone, on previous occasions. But when he reaches his old military base, Susan is not to be found, and from there begins another messy affair that Reacher has to solve and escape from. It’s quite a thrilling book, worthy of building a high-intensity and action-packed movie, though I was hoping that we would have buried 2012’s attempt and moved on with a newer cast, probably few years down the line. But alas, 2016 is the year of release planned for the sequel. I hope Tom Cruise toughens up by then!