Tom Cruise’s resurgence as a movie star in the last few years has been based largely on his starring in big action films with big action stunts. Whether it was Edge of Tomorrow or either of the last two Mission: Impossible movies, Cruise’s parts of late have been synonymous with elaborate, impressive stunts, mostly done by the actor himself. All of this coming in the period during which the actor celebrated his 50th birthday (he's 53 now).
Now, Cruise is getting ready to shoot a sequel to 2012's Jack Reacher, a project that will reunite the actor with his Oscar-winning The Last Samurai director, Edward Zwick. Production on the project will start this fall (as has been confirmed by Zwick), and the writer/director has also spoken a bit about his planned approach to Mr. Reacher's new adventure.
Reacher, the war veteran-turned-drifter played by Cruise, won't be jumping on to a plane as it’s taking off (with a nuclear warhead on board) or anything like that in the sequel, as Zwick confirmed to Collider (during an interview for his next film, Pawn Sacrifice) that he won't stray from the relatively grounded tone of Christopher McQuarrie's first Jack Reacher:
It’s going to be very grounded. The emotions are grounded. The action is grounded. Mission: Impossible 5 is an extraordinary accomplishment of a very particular kind, and I think we would be foolish to try and replicate it for a different genre, so this is going to be itself.
This makes a certain amount of sense. Jack Reacher doesn’t have a ton in common with Mission:Impossible other than that they’re both active action franchises that star Tom Cruise. They have very different pedigrees and styles and possibly different audiences as well. The action sequences in the first Jack Reacher consisted largely of fight scenes, most of which featured Cruise getting attacked by groups and bad guys and always subduing them despite being noticeably shorter and older than all of them.
The Jack Reacher sequel will also revolve around a mystery/story (based on Jack Reacher creator Lee Childs' novel "Never Go Back") that is completely separate from the first movie, save for the inclusion of the Reacher character. Zwick told Collider this was another element that made the sequel appealing to him.
The nice thing about the franchise to me is that it’s almost an anthology. [Reacher] gets involved in something very different in each of those books with a different cast of character and a different set of circumstances of things that happen to him. I like to think this will satisfy those who really like the character, but they will see him and see this very much as a standalone movie as each of them hopes to be.
The biggest change is that Zwick has stepped in to replace Christopher McQuarrie (who, incidentally, went on to direct Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.) Zwick’s resume as director is eclectic; he made the original About Last Night..., Glory, Defiance and also the highly underrated Love & Other Drugs, in addition to The Siege, Blood Diamond, and The Last Samurai. Unfortunately, the quality of his films tends to vary a bit too much for comfort.
The first Jack Reacher, though, was pretty fantastic, and the next film should succeed too if it sticks to a similar template. Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Age of Ultron) is stepping in to play the female lead, though it remains to be seen if a fitting replacement for Werner Herzog’s great villain character from the first movie will be found.
Jack Reacher 2 is reportedly being eyed to reach theaters in late 2016; we'll let you know when it gets an official release date.