Jack Reacher (2012)


Jack Reacher is a 2012 American action thriller film written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, based on Lee Child’s 2005 novel One Shot.

The film stars Tom Cruise as the title character, with Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Richard Jenkins, Jai Courtney, Werner Herzog, and Robert Duvall also starring.

Followed by a sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, in 2016 and TV series, Reacher, in 2022.


In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a man drives a van into a parking garage across the Allegheny River from PNC Park, dropping a quarter into the meter. He readies a Springfield Armory M1A and assassinates five people on the river’s North Shore Trail from long range before driving off.

The police, headed by Detective Calvin Emerson, find a shell casing as well as the quarter used to pay for parking. A fingerprint on the coin belongs to James Barr, a former US Army sniper. When the police raid his house, they find the van, equipment for reloading rifle cartridges, the rifle in question, and Barr asleep in his bed.

During an interrogation by Emerson and District Attorney Alex Rodin, Barr is offered a choice between life in prison in exchange for a full confession or guaranteed death row, as Rodin has never lost a conviction. They are bewildered when Barr instead takes a notepad and writes “Get Jack Reacher”. Reacher is a drifter and former Army Military Police officer. He arrives in Pittsburgh after seeing a news report about Barr and the shooting. Emerson and Rodin deny Reacher’s request to view the evidence but agree to let him see Barr, who was attacked by fellow inmates and is now in a coma. Reacher meets Barr’s defence attorney, Helen Rodin, the District Attorney’s daughter, who has been saddled with the apparently hopeless task of saving Barr from the death penalty.

Helen tells Reacher he can see the evidence if he will be her investigator, but Reacher retorts that he is not interested in clearing Barr’s name. He reveals that Barr had gone on a killing spree during his tour in Iraq but was not prosecuted because, unbeknownst to Barr, his victims were under investigation for numerous rapes and the US Army wanted them forgotten. Reacher vowed that if Barr tried anything like this again, he would take him down.

Reacher agrees to investigate if Helen visits the victims’ families to learn about the people murdered that day. Reacher goes to the crime scene and finds inconsistencies about the location, thinking that a trained shooter would have done the killings from the cover of the van on the nearby Fort Duquesne Bridge. After an apparently spurious bar fight, Reacher realises that someone is attempting to strong-arm him into dropping his investigation. After Helen reports her findings about the victims to Reacher, he suggests that the owner of a local construction company was the intended victim, while the other victims served as a cover-up.

Reacher is later framed for the murder of the young woman who was paid to instigate the brawl, but this only motivates him further. Reacher eventually follows up a lead at a shooting range in the neighbouring state of Ohio, owned by former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Martin Cash, who will talk only if Reacher demonstrates his shooting skills.

The real perpetrators are a gang masquerading as a legitimate construction firm, led by a former Soviet political prisoner known only as Zec Chelovek (“prisoner human being”). The gang kidnaps Helen with the aid of Detective Emerson and holds her hostage at a quarry. After he steals Helen’s car, Reacher outwits the mob guards, killing them (along with Emerson) with Cash’s help, before confronting the Zec about the conspiracy. The Zec points out that Reacher has killed most of the witnesses against him and doubts that he would be convicted, while also admitting that any prison sentence he is likely to serve would be relatively easy compared to his time in Siberia. Reacher shoots the Zec in the head on the spot.

Reacher and Cash flee the scene with confidence that Helen will clear Reacher’s name. When Barr awakens from his coma, he tells Helen that he has no recent memory, but believes that he must be guilty of the shootings. Barr’s mental reconstruction of how he would have committed the shootings confirms Reacher’s theory. Still unaware of all these developments, Barr is willing to accept both responsibility and his punishment, fearing that Reacher will seek justice if the law does not. However, it is evident he will be cleared of the charges. Meanwhile, Reacher, sitting on a bus, overhears a man verbally and physically abusing a young woman and stands up to confront him, ending the film.


  • Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.
  • Rosamund Pike as Helen Rodin.
  • Richard Jenkins as District Attorney Alex Rodin.
  • Werner Herzog as Zek Chelovek.
  • David Oyelowo as Detective Calvin Emerson.
  • Jai Courtney as Charlie.
  • Joseph Sikora as James Mark Barr.
  • Robert Duvall as Martin Cash.
  • Michael Raymond-James as Linsky.
  • Josh Helman as Jeb Oliver.
  • Alexia Fast as Sandy.
  • James Martin Kelly as Rob Farrior.
  • Nicole Forester as Nancy Holt.



Attempts to adapt author Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novel series into a film have been made ever since the character debuted in 1997’s Killing Floor. After being optioned with no success to PolyGram and later New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures and Cruise/Wagner Productions acquired the film rights in 2005. Screenwriter Josh Olson was then hired to adapt Child’s then-most recent novel in the Reacher series, One Shot (2005). In July 2010, Christopher McQuarrie, who previously collaborated with Cruise/Wagner Productions on the 2008 film Valkyrie, signed on to rework Olson’s script and ultimately direct the film.


In June 2011, Tom Cruise was in talks for playing the role of Jack Reacher. The following month, Cruise closed a deal with the studios and signed on for the part. Some fans of the novel series became vocal over the casting of Cruise due to the actor’s height not matching the description of Reacher in the novels. Explaining the casting decision, author Lee Child said that it would be impossible to find a suitable actor to play the giant Reacher and to recreate the feel of the book onscreen, and that Cruise had the talent to make an effective Reacher. Child also said, “Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way.” Of Cruise’s relatively small stature, Child said, “With another actor you might get 100% of the height but only 90% of Reacher. With Tom, you’ll get 100% of Reacher with 90% of the height.”

Following the casting of Cruise, Rosamund Pike was cast as the female lead. Other actresses who were in the running for the role included Hayley Atwell and Alexa Davalos. By September 2011, the main cast was locked in with the hiring of David Oyelowo, Richard Jenkins, Jai Courtney, and Robert Duvall. Werner Herzog, primarily known for his directorial work, rounded out the cast in October 2011 when he signed on to play the film’s chief villain.

In April 2017, Dwayne Johnson revealed that he was in the running to play Jack Reacher before Cruise was hired.

In a 2018 interview, two years after the 2016 release of the sequel, Child agreed that the readers were correct in their criticism, stating:

I really enjoyed working with Cruise. He’s a really, really nice guy. We had a lot of fun. But ultimately the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it’s a big component of who he is…So what I’ve decided to do is – there won’t be any more movies with Tom Cruise. Instead we’re going to take it to Netflix or something like that. Long-form streaming television, with a completely new actor. We’re rebooting and starting over and we’re going to try and find the perfect guy.


Production on the film began in October 2011 and was completed in January 2012. Cruise performed all of his own driving stunts during the film’s signature car chase sequence. “Action to me is something very fun to shoot. The challenge in most car chases is you’re trying to hide the fact that it’s not the actor driving,” McQuarrie said. “The challenge here was the exact opposite. We were trying to find a way to show that it was always Tom driving. He’s literally driving in every stunt sequence.”

In February 2012, Kevin Messick, one of the film’s executive producers, sued Don Granger and Gary Levinsohn, two other producers, for breach of contract over a joint venture agreement, claiming he had “helped to develop the film, renew Paramount’s options for the rights to the book, and participated in the search for a screenwriter” but starting in July 2010, had been left out of meetings with the screenwriter and the studio and not given certain drafts of the screenplay while it was under development. Messick is suing for “unspecified damages, his producer’s fees and the right to participate in any upcoming sequels.”


The film’s musical score was composed by Joe Kraemer, who previously scored director McQuarrie’s The Way of the Gun (2000). Kraemer was announced as the composer for the film in July 2012, having already started work on it. After spending eight weeks working with McQuarrie on materials to present to producers, Kraemer’s hiring was approved and he directly began working on the film’s opening eight minutes. “I have a number of tricks that I use to spark the creative process,” said Kraemer on his scoring process after having seen the film. “Sometimes I’ll use my mathematical understanding of music to devise a theme (such as the open fifths of Reacher’s theme), sometimes I’ll have an orchestral colour in mind (i.e. the music for THE ZEC). The actual composing process probably resembles Max Steiner more than anyone else I know of. I start at the first frame of the movie and work my through to the end, chronologically, in order.”

The film is noted for its balance between music and silence, with music primarily absent or reserved during a majority of the film’s action sequences. Discussing his approach to this balance, Kraemer described, “Music can make such an impact when it enters a scene, and obviously the only way to do that is to have silence beforehand. I also generally like to have long tails on my cues so that they sort of fade away rather than ending abruptly. In this way, I try to weave music in and out very carefully so that the audience is as unaware as possible of the entrances and exits. I often cite Patton as a prime example of great spotting – a three and half hour biopic with, what, twenty-eight minutes of score? That’s unheard of today. But it worked!”

The score was performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony and recorded at the Sony Scoring Stage in Culver City, California. A soundtrack album for the film was released on 18 December 2012 by La-La Land Records.



The trailer for Jack Reacher was officially released on Cruise’s birthday, 03 July 2012.

Theatrical Release

Jack Reacher, then titled One Shot, was originally slated to be released in February 2013. In March 2012, the release date was brought forward by Paramount Pictures to 21 December 2012, hoping to capitalise on the box office success of Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which was released at a similar point in 2011. The film’s new release date pushed the release of World War Z back six months.

The film was released in North American markets on 21 December 2012, with a premiere initially planned for Pittsburgh’s SouthSide Works megaplex on 15 December 2012, which was to be attended by the film’s stars, and Lee Child.

On 15 December 2012, Paramount Pictures announced it was indefinitely postponing the film’s premiere screening in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, out of respect for the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which had occurred the day before. The opening scene shows a sniper shooting at people including a woman holding a small child, and one point aiming the cross-hairs directly at her. Writer-director McQuarrie endorsed the decision, saying he and Cruise insisted upon it:

Nobody should be celebrating anything 24 hours after a tragic event like that. We thought long and hard about it. This was not a snap judgment, because we wanted to give back to the city of Pittsburgh [by having the premiere there], because they were so great to us.

The film held its United Kingdom premiere on 10 December 2012 at London’s Odeon Leicester Square. It was released in the UK on 26 December 2012.

Box Office

Jack Reacher grossed $80.1 million in North America and $138.3 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $218.3 million, against a budget of $60 million.

In North America, the film opened in 3,352 cinemas. Jack Reacher went on to gross $5.1 million on its opening day in the US and Canada, and $15.6 million in its opening weekend. The film held well in its second weekend, dropping only 10.2% to a total of $14.1 million and ranking at No. 5.

Upon its opening five-day international start, making $5.5 million in the UK and $4.4 million in France, the film grossed a total of $18.1 million from 32 international markets. Throughout the following weeks, the film expanded to additional international markets and grossed an international total of $136,497,530.

Home Media

Jack Reacher was released onto Blu-ray and DVD formats in the United Kingdom And in North American territories on 19 March 2013 by Paramount Home Media Distribution. The Blu-ray release contains two commentary tracks and three behind-the-scenes featurettes. Jack Reacher received a 4K UHD Blu-Ray release on 26 June 2018.


While Jack Reacher was intended to be a tent-pole for a film series, it was initially reported that a sequel would be unlikely due to its lacklustre run at the North American box office. However, in February 2013, the possibility of a sequel became more likely after the film surpassed a gross of $200 million worldwide. On 09 December 2013, it was announced that Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions were moving forward with the development of a sequel, reportedly based on the 2013 Jack Reacher novel Never Go Back.

Principal photography on the sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, began on 20 October 2015, in New Orleans. The sequel was directed by Edward Zwick, produced by Tom Cruise, Don Granger, and Christopher McQuarrie and was written by Zwick, Richard Wenk, and Marshall Herskovitz. It stars Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, and Holt McCallany. The plot follows Reacher going on-the-run with an army major who has been framed for espionage, and it reveals a dark conspiracy. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was released on 21 October 2016, in IMAX and conventional formats. It grossed $161 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics.


  • When Jack Reacher’s car crashes into some barrels, the car accidentally stalled upon the impact, but Tom Cruise was luckily able to restart the car before driving off again.
    • Rather than do a retake, Christopher McQuarrie decided to leave it in the film, as he felt it added to the suspense of the scene.
  • Rosamund Pike was pregnant with son Solo during the shooting for this film.
  • Jai Courtney and Josh Helman had so much trouble with the American accent required for their roles that several planned scenes were scrapped, and many of Courtney’s lines were dropped from the sides.
  • Reacher introduced himself as Aaron Ward, and it’s obvious that Cash recognises the name of the 1925 Yankees’ second baseman (who really was Aaron Ward).
    • Cash pauses and says the name to confirm. Cash says, “Play ball”! after Reacher is allowed his practice shot, so now the real shooting can take place.
    • That reference to baseball is a tip-off to Reacher that his cover has been blown, even before he takes his excellent shots to reveal who he is.
  • The irony of the having a car chase scene in the movie is that in the Jack Reacher novels, Reacher does not like to drive (preferring to walk, hitch rides, ride subways and buses) and as such is often portrayed as being a terrible driver.
  • Ernest Wells is the actor portraying one of the bystanders waiting on a bus that helps Tom Cruise’s character Jack Reacher hide from the police.
    • In the first movie, he lends him his hat so it can help Jack hide.
    • While on the bus, Jack returns it to him.
    • In the sequel, Jack and his female friend get in a taxi cab to escape.
    • He is the cab driver that gives her his hat.
  • Coincidentally, the source novel, “One Shot” by Lee Child, specifically references (though not by name) the film A Few Good Men (1992), which starred Tom Cruise. In the novel, Reacher reflects upon a line of dialogue spoken by Jack Nicholson’s character.
  • The way Reacher cycles the action of the Remington 700 on his 3rd shot during the range scene is how snipers are actually trained to cycle bolt action rifles.

Jack Reacher Series

You can find a full index and overview of the Jack Reacher films and TV series here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Christopher McQuarrie.
  • Producer(s):
    • Tom Cruise … producer (produced by).
    • David Ellison … executive producer.
    • Dana Goldberg … executive producer.
    • Don Granger … producer (produced by).
    • Ken Kamins … executive producer.
    • Cliff Lanning … associate producer.
    • Gary Levinsohn … producer (produced by).
    • Kevin J. Messick … executive producer (as Kevin Messick).
    • Jake Myers … executive producer.
    • Paul Schwake … executive producer.
    • Paula Wagner … producer (produced by).
  • Writer(s):
    • Lee Child … (based on the book “One Shot” by).
    • Christopher McQuarrie … (written for the screen by).
  • Music:
    • Joe Kramer.
  • Cinematography:
    • Caleb Deschanel … director of photography.
  • Editor(s):
    • Kevin Stitt.
  • Production:
    • Paramount Pictures.
    • Skydance Media (as Skydance Productions).
    • H2L Media “AKA” Mutual Film Company.
    • H2L Media Group.
    • Mutual Film Company.
    • TC Productions.
  • Distributor(s):
    • B&H Film Distribution (2013) (Ukraine) (theatrical).
    • Central Partnership (2013) (Russia) (theatrical).
    • Intercontinental Film Distributors (HK) (2012) (Hong Kong) (theatrical).
    • Interfilm Distribution (2013) (Kazakhstan) (theatrical).
    • NOS Audiovisuais (2012) (Portugal) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures International (2013) (Argentina) (theatrical) (through United International Pictures).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (Australia) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (Brazil) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (Canada) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (France) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (Italy) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (Mexico) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (Spain) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (UK) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2012) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2013) (Germany) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (2013) (Japan) (theatrical).
    • Solar Entertainment (2013) (Philippines) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (United Arab Emirates) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2013) (Argentina) (theatrical) (through).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Bulgaria) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Colombia) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Denmark) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Ecuador) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2013) (Greece) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Croatia) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2013) (Hungary) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Indonesia) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Israel) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Malaysia) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Peru) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2013) (Philippines) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Poland) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Singapore) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Slovenia) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Thailand) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Turkey) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Taiwan) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (Venezuela) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2012) (South Africa) (theatrical).
    • Universal Pictures International (UPI) (2012) (Belgium) (theatrical).
    • Universal Pictures International (UPI) (2013) (Austria) (theatrical).
    • Universal Pictures International (UPI) (2013) (Netherlands) (theatrical).
    • Westec Media Limited (2012) (Cambodia) (theatrical).
    • Amazon Prime Video (2012) (World-wide) (video).
    • Film1 (2013) (Netherlands) (TV) (limited).
    • KVH Media Group (2013) (World-wide) (all media) (ships).
    • Odeon (2013) (Greece) (Blu-ray).
    • Odeon (2013) (Greece) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Argentina) (Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Argentina) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Australia) (Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Australia) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Australia) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Germany) (Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2018) (Germany) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (UK) (Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (UK) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2018) (UK) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Netherlands) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (through Universal Pictures Benelux).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Netherlands) (DVD) (through Universal Pictures Benelux).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2018) (Netherlands) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray) (through Universal Pictures Benelux).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (USA) (Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (USA) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Media Distribution (2018) (USA) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray).
    • RTL Entertainment (2015) (Netherlands) (TV) (RTL5).
    • TV3 (2019) (Estonia) (TV).
    • Universal Pictures (2013) (Netherlands) (Blu-ray) (through).
    • Universal Pictures (2013) (Netherlands) (DVD) (through).
    • Universal Pictures (2018) (Netherlands) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray) (through).
  • Release Date: 10 December 2012 (Premiere, London, UK) and 19 December (Premiere, Pittsburgh, US).
  • Rating: PG-13.
  • Running Time: 130 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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