There’s something mesmerizing about an actor at the top of his game.
Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series tells the story of a 6’5″ 250-pound muscular ex-military policeman who, after leaving his position, foils bad guy after bad guy as he hitchhikes his way across the country. The character as envisioned in the books is an unstoppable force of nature, a chivalrous knight errant capable of outthinking, outlasting, or outgunning his opponents. Whether it be his eidetic memory, his force of will, or his extensive combat training, Jack-None-Reacher gets it done.
Now put 5’7″ Tom Cruise in the role. Fans of the book series howled. Sure he’s an action hero, but how could tiny Tom Cruise, he of the slippery spy Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible, the smarmy Maverick in Top Gun, the earnest lawyer in A Few Good Men… how could he ever possibly play the unsentimental, determined Reacher?
Pretty damn well, it turns out. It’s unclear whether it’s camera tricks or they just surround him with short people, but however they did it, when you watch either of the Jack Reacher movies, you forget it’s Tom Cruise in about 5 minutes, and feel a thrill every time you see a Reacher with both brains and brawn take down another opponent. Cruise completely inhabits the character of Reacher, and becomes unmistakably him.
There’s a lot to like and dislike about Tom Cruise as a person. But it’s hard to deny that he’s a phenomenal actor. Would that we all could be that good at our craft.