There was a period in Tom Cruise’s long and storied career when he must have wondered, beneath the surface of that legendary grin, why he’d bothered to get up and go to work in the first place.
Specifically, this was his five-year stint from 2007 to 2012, in which, professionally speaking, he seemed incapable of making good choices and, on a personal front, the world and its wife had very clear opinions on ones they knew nothing about.
The films may have looked good on paper, but in reality they were terrible (with the notable exception of his majestic fat-suit cameo as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder, which many read as a very public parody of the studio suits who had given him such a wide berth in the wake of Oprah-sofa-gate).
There was the dreary potboiler (Lions for Lambs), the wannabe Mr & Mrs Smith (Knight and Day), the awful musical (Rock of Ages) and, who can forget, the one where he played a one-eyed, one-armed heroic Nazi (Valkyrie). Even the Burj Khalifa could only partly help his box office recovery, in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and that was very much written, perhaps in reaction to his then-fading star power, as an ensemble piece.
And so it was that Cruise’s original adaptation of Lee Child’s bestselling, off-the-grid former military cop, Jack Reacher, arrived at the US box office in 2012 with a very un-Reacher-like whimper, only to just about be considered a financial success when global ticket sales were factored in.
Today the world has correctly remembered why it liked Cruise so much in the first place, the turning point being the one-two of Reacher and Doug Liman’s smart slice of sci-fi, Edge of Tomorrow, which he notably pitched as “a Tom Cruise movie that covers all bases. If you like Tom Cruise, great, go see it. And if you don’t then go see it anyway, ’cos he gets killed 200 times in it.”
Ever since, Cruise has enjoyed a purple patch (and he has Universal’s upcoming reboot of The Mummy in the can and Top Gun 2 in the works) that should come to fruition with this month’s ironically titled sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
This time directed by Cruise’s The Last Samurai collaborator Ed Zwick, this instalment (see review overleaf) is based on the 18th book in Child’s extraordinarily successful run of novels, and sees its leading man team up with Cobie Smulders’ Major Susan Turner, to battle a top-level conspiracy. Oh, and it turns out he might just have a daughter too, in the shape of Danika Yarosh’s Samantha.
“Reacher is a self-contained character,” says Zwick. “So to give him a certain intensity of relationship is interesting.”
As for Cruise, the appeal of the character is simple: “He’s internal and he’s calm,” he told us, knowingly. “And no matter what the odds, the guy just never feels beat.”
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is in cinemas across Dubai from Thursday October 20.