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Why Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher Bombed, According To The Director

Of the most successful movies in Tom Cruise's career, six are part of the "Mission: Impossible" series. One franchise that unfortunately didn't do so well, however, was "Jack Reacher." Before it became Amazon Prime Video's hottest property, it was a floundering big-screen adaptation of Lee Child's book series that missed its mark even with one of Hollywood's biggest stars as its lead. In hindsight, though, director Edward Zwick feels that the fault with the second movie, "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back," falls with him and producer Don Granger, even confessing as much in his book, "Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions."

Even with films like "Glory," "Blood Diamond," and "Legends of the Fall," to Zwick's name, the director accepted that what he delivered with "Never Go Back" wasn't necessarily what the audience asked for. "I blame myself (and my willing accomplice, Don Granger) for thinking the audience might enjoy a mash-up of 'Jack Reacher' and 'Paper Moon,' when in fact they just wanted more red meat," he wrote. Zwick was referring to the 1973 film with a con-man hero paired up with a young girl he takes under his wing, similar to Cobie Smulders' character in "Never Go Back" working with Cruise's Reacher.

Instead, Zwick's notion of "more red meat" might've been right, given how Alan Ritchson's Reacher on the popular TV show is much more aggressive and what Cruise's version almost came close to being.

Christopher McQuarrie had plans for an R-rated Reacher

As brutal as it might be to say, Alan Ritchson proved Tom Cruise was the worse Jack Reacher between the two. Even so, unlike its predecessors, a third movie in the series could've gained an audience if it had been stamped with an R-rating.

In an interview with Empire, Cruise's regular film-making buddy, Christopher McQuarrie, revealed that he had plans for the theoretical "Jack Reacher 3" to get a hard R. "Tom and I were talking about, had the series continued, to take Reacher to a place where, in the post-'Deadpool,' post-'Joker' world, 'Reacher' could have been an R-rated movie and an R-rated franchise and really fed into the brutality of those books," he said. "We were fully ready to lean into that."

Of course, this threequel never happened, and instead, the torch was passed to Ritchson, who is set to return for Season 3 of "Reacher." Regarding Cruise's version, McQuarrie said, "It's a very un-Tom character, and we have plans for an even more un-Tom character that we've been talking about, which I'm hopeful about in the future."

While this may have been a plan in motion in 2020, there might still be a chance that the other "un-Tom" character could make an appearance eventually now that the star has signed his massive deal with Warner Bros. Sure, his Jack Reacher might not be one of them, but perhaps without Cruise's version, we would've never got the one we have now.