Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher wasn’t an instant hit. The hard-hitting adaptation of Lee Child’s bestselling novels opened to a soft $15.2 million back in December 2012, and went on to earn $80M in the States (but a healthier $138M overseas). It’s one of those movies that more people found on DVD and cable, appreciating the work of Cruise and his director, Christopher McQuarrie. Jack Reacher is leading to a sequel, yet while Cruise is back in the lead role, McQuarrie had to pass, and I wondered why.

The director known as "McQ" is making the press rounds on behalf of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the impossibly entertaining fifth chapter in that action-heavy saga. When I sat across from McQuarrie in Vienna, Austria as part of the Mission world premiere, I asked him about Jack Reacher 2, and why he had to pass on the opportunity to continue what he had started. As it turns out, one Tom Cruise film actually prevented McQ from making a different Tom Cruise movie, as the directed told me:
They needed to start [Jack Reacher 2], and I was [still] shooting this movie, so there was just no time to do it. And they have a really good team working on this new one. I’m very excited about it."

The next Reacher movie will actually attempt to adapt Lee Child’s bestselling novel Never Go Back, in which the lead character (played by Tom Cruise) actually does go back to an important location from his professional past, only to find that he’s being accused of a 16-year-old homicide. Seeing as how producers needed to find a replacement for Christopher McQuarrie, they recruited a former Cruise colleague in Edward Zwick. The two worked together on The Last Samurai back in 2003. Zwick’s other credits include Blood Diamond (with Leonardo DiCaprio), Defiance (with Daniel Craig) and the upcoming chess drama Pawn Sacrifice.

Here’s part of my conversation with Christopher McQuarrie, talking bout his Jack Reacher quandary.

Jack Reacher 2 doesn’t have a release date yet, though Tom Cruise is expected to begin filming it once he wraps on Mena. It could get delayed if he opts for Top Gun 2, instead. I wonder, if that were to happen, if Christopher McQuarrie would be back in play for the director’s chair? Part of the magic of the first Jack Reacher (and of the new Mission: Impossible) is how McQuarrie interacts with Cruise, so my fingers, for now, remain crossed.

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