The Tom Cruise train has been building steam these last few years, with the actor’s rebranding as Hollywood’s go to action star. This culminated with 2015's Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation, which served as Cruise’s fifth outing as superspy Ethan Hunt - and, in turn, earned one of the best overall critical receptions in the franchise's history (read our review). Now, while the iron is still so hot and primed for the striking, Cruise is all set to return to another franchise of his.
The project in question, Jack Reacher 2 reteams the star with Oscar-winner Edward Zwick, who last directed Cruise in The Last Samurai over a decade ago. Joining the cast is Agent Maria Hill herself, Cobie Smulders, in what has been touted as a "more grounded" outing for the eponymous ex-military investigator. Paramount Pictures and Skydance have now set the sequel to arrive in Fall 2016.
Reported to be based on “Never Go Back” - the 18th Jack Reacher novel written by Lee Child - Jack Reacher 2 finds the investigator caught up in a mystery involving Susan, a commanding officer at a Virginia army base (Smulders), and a teenager named Samantha - who might, in fact, be Jack Reacher’s daughter. The first Jack Reacher was a mystery/thriller involving a convoluted conspiracy, but the sequel is said to be comparatively straight-forward, with its focus more on Reacher’s relationships with Susan and Samantha.
Jack Reacher 2 is currently set to arrive on October 21, 2016; other films currently slated for release that day include Kate Beckinsale action franchise installment Underworld 5 and horror sequel Ouija 2. Cruise's new movie is also sandwiched about two weeks apart from a pair of superhero comic book film adaptations - 20th Century Fox's Channing Tatum-led X-Men spinoff Gambit (set for October 7th) and Marvel Studios' Benedict Cumberbatch-led Doctor Strange (set for November 4).
That said, given the number of superhero films slated to arrive in 2016, a film where Cruise plays an ordinary man who relies on his wits and combat knowledge to beat up baddies - while having to get in touch with his emotional side at the same time - may come off as being all the more refreshing (and thus, appealing) an option, by the time it arrives.
Jack Reacher 2 once faced an uphill battle to get the greenlight after Jack Reacher’s modest $80 million domestic take. Jack Reacher reached a wider audience overseas, where the film earned an impressive $138 million, and has since gained a wider domestic audience after its release on Blu-ray and streaming platforms. Paramount is hoping that Jack Reacher 2 can build off of its predecessor’s post-release momentum and earn the big dollars next fall.
The film must also contend with a change of director, and the effect that has on the series (good or bad). Zwick is taking over from Christopher McQuarrie, whose stylistic flourishes elevated Jack Reacher into what many feel is a taut and exciting thriller that packs a punch. Zwick boasts films like Blood Diamond, Legends of the Fall, and Glory to his name, but also somewhat middling fare (Love and Other Drugs, Defiance); still, Jack Reacher 2 does feel perfectly suited for Zwick, especially if the sequel ends up being more emotional than its predecessor.
Given the momentum Cruise has been building of late (after the last two Mission: Impossible films, Jack Reacher, and Edge of Tomorrow), Jack Reacher 2 seems to have the tide moving in its favor right now. Cruise in general doesn't look to slow down at the box office after Jack Reacher 2 either, as he has the drug crime/thriller Mena - helmed by his Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman - arriving a few months thereafter, possibly followed by Mission: Impossible 6 as soon as Summer 2017.
Jack Reacher 2 will hit theaters on October 21, 2016.
Source: Paramount Pictures/Skydance