"Do you think I'm a hero? I am not a hero."
Tom Cruise spells it out plainly in the new trailer for hard-bitten action film "Jack Reacher" that just premiered exclusively here on Yahoo! Movies. Cruise plays the title character, a former military police officer who operates outside the law to dole out justice.
The role looks to be a serious departure from the action heroes Cruise has played in the past. While Maverick from "Top Gun" could charm with a toothy smile, and Ethan Hunt in the "Mission: Impossible" series relied on technology and deception, Jack Reacher is a different animal entirely.
Reacher doesn't crack smiles, he cracks skulls. When the bad guys take the young lawyer Helen (played by Rosamund Pike) hostage to pressure him, Reacher says, "The lawyer's all yours," and hangs up on them. Then he calls back just to say, "On second thought, I'd like to kill you." With his dispassionate manner and propensity for violence, Cruise's characterization of Reacher seems more reminiscent of his villainous turn as a hitman in "Collateral" than the heroes he's played in the past. Reacher tells the hostage-taker, "I have nothing to lose, and if you're smart, that scares you."
Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie -- who won the Oscar for penning "The Usual Suspects" -- told Yahoo! Movies that he found Reacher to be "a completely pragmatic character." McQuarrie said, "He is not an overtly violent character, but he has absolutely no objection to using violence when necessary... you knew not to mess with this guy, but at the same time, he was not overtly menacing." Reacher is also different from Cruise's "M:I" role in that he is "a purely analog hero. He's not about technology."
The movie is an adaptation of the book "One Shot," part of the bestselling series of Jack Reacher novels. Some fans of the books initially objected to Cruise being cast in the role because he is so physically dissimilar to how the character is described. Reacher in the text is described as being 6'5" tall and over 200 lbs. with light hair -- not exactly how you'd describe Cruise.
But author Lee Child, who created Reacher, has been vocally supportive of the casting. In a webchat for EmpireOnline before filming began, Child said, "From what I've seen so far, Tom will do a fine job. The early rehearsals and the read-through have been stunning." And a photo from the movie revealed that Child actually has a cameo appearance as a police desk sergeant.
Perhaps the biggest difference between this role and others of Cruise's career is that he usually plays excitable, tense people who are quick to explode. Reacher isn't like that. McQuarrie said that in the role, Cruise "approaches every situation in a calm, almost Zen, kind of way." He said that it was important that Reacher not come across as a superhero, but rather "a truly free and as a result focused human being. If he has any super powers, it's just that he's not distracted by everyday things."
You'll get to see this different side of Tom Cruise when "Jack Reacher" opens on December 21.
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