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Tom Cruise Is Jack Reacher

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.

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Vicarious Joy

vicarious-joyOne of the best ways to vicariously experience joy is to watch professional sports teams win an important game.  The final game of the World Series.  The Super Bowl.  An Olympic gold.  The Stanley Cup.  It doesn’t even have to be for a championship — it could be a well-fought game that left the winning players happy but exhausted.

Half the reason I tune into World Cup games right now is to see the teams celebrate when they get a goal, or when they win the match.  Everyone’s so damn happy. They are competing at the pinnacle of their sport, and just had a major step forward toward success. The spontaneous celebrations are a sight to behold. The crowds the cameras cut to are of rapture, as bedecked fans hoot and holler and scream and bounce up and down.

It’s contagious, that sort of joy. It’s hard not to be moved when you see the celebrating baseball team piling on top of each other on the pitcher’s mound. Naturally, it’s more contagious when you’re in a bar full of locals who haven’t seen their team win in 86 years. Then the place explodes, you hug people you don’t know, and everyone is honking their horns and yelling at the windows when you drive home. But it doesn’t have to be your home team ending a long drought. I’ll still take secondhand joy off of watching Croatia celebrate as they survive a shootout with Denmark.

Make sure you tune in for at least one World Cup celebration, or watch some highlights. It’s a good way to get a joy fix to tide you over until your next personal experience.