It would be interesting to speak to the producers of the Jack Reacher films, including Tom Cruise, just to ask them why they seem dead-set against doing the books in chronological order. Not every single book in the series by Lee Child follows the one directly before it. He’s played with time a bit, jumping back to fill in some details about the character. However, for the most part, there is continuity in the series, and by making the movies in what feels like random order saps some of the fun of the way Child told the story.

The first film in the series, Jack Reacher, was adapted from One Shot, the ninth book in the series. In the fourteenth book in the series, Reacher begins an over-the-phone relationship with Major Susan Turner, and he began to work his way across the country to meet her. It was book eighteen, Never Go Back, where Reacher finally met her face-to-face, shocked to find her in custody when he arrives. In this new film, directed by Ed Zwick, Cobie Smulders plays Turner, and it looks like a fairly straightforward adaptation by Zwick and his longtime collaborator Marshall Herskovitz of the book. But without any legwork to set up the relationship between Turner and Reacher, the stakes are different for the characters.

I’m curious to see how Zwick handles the action. It’s never been his strongest side as a filmmaker, and it’s such an important part of how Reacher reacts to the world around him. The trailer opens with a great scene that emphasizes how dangerous Reacher is, and it looks like it’s a bigger film overall than the first one was. I think Christopher McQuarrie did a terrific job of making Reacher work on film, even with Tom Cruise playing a bite-sized version of the original character. Zwick has worked with Cruise before, but I’m not a big fan of The Last Samurai, so fingers crossed that Zwick has a great stunt team and that second-unit director/stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood is able to pull off that same level of intensity. Hell, there’s room for it to be even better, so let’s hope they escalated it for the new film.

Finally, this isn’t new information, but it was new to me. If you’ve been reading me for a while, then you are probably aware of how highly I think of the Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald. I’ve said before that one of the things I love about the Reacher books is how they scratch that Travis McGee itch for me, so it wasn’t surprising to learn recently that Child considers the McGee novels to be sacred text. What knocked me out was Child saying that he wanted to stop writing his Reacher books once he reached the 21st in the series, since MacDonald was only able to publish 21 books in the McGee series before he died. This fall’s release of Night School will make 21 books about Reacher (not counting any of the novellas or short stories), and Child has already struck a deal to write three more novels after this as well as one more short-story collection. I love that Child was thinking about MacDonald, and that he has such a reverence for that series. We all make our contributions to film or fiction building onto the work of the giants who have come before us, and Child understands that. His Jack Reacher isn’t meant to supplant the tough guy icons who came before him; he is part of a continuum, and I for one am glad to see any new books or movies in this series.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is in theaters October 21, 2016.
Night School is in bookstores on November 7, 2016.

A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.