Culture

Lee Child and Christopher McQuarrie Take Aim at Cruise Haters and "One Shot" Detractors

"One Shot" haters: You've been served. The creative team behind Christopher McQuarrie's adaptation of Lee Child's terse and tense crime series has launched a canny campaign to wrest the reigns of perception about the project from the disgruntled digital peanut gallery decrying the decision to cast Tom Cruise as the mammoth ex-military cop, Jack Reacher. Today's news that newcomer (and certified vealcake) Jai Courtney would play the sniper pursuing Reacher appeared to be McQuarrie's coup de grace, capping a series of strategically placed supporting cast announcements which were instantly trumpeted in the press. Then, as if to snuff out any doubt that the production would continue to silently absorb body blows from the book's legions of irate fans, this morning excerpts surfaced from a recent Empire interview in which Child delivered his second strongly worded Cruise endorsement.

"Obviously, Tom Cruise doesn't match the physical description of Reacher in the books ... but the movie is not going to match the book anyway," Child told the British film magazine." If you look at what McQuarrie [the screenwriter of "One Shot," whose previous work includes "The Usual Suspects" and "Valkyrie"] and Cruise have done before, I think this Reacher will be more clinical  the scalpel rather than the sledgehammer. What people forget is that Tom Cruise is quite possibly the best actor of his generation."

Sean Penn might dispute that last statement. But let's not split cross-hairs. Given that Child is already working the stump on Cruise's behalf before the film has even started shooting means that "One Shot's" war room is now up and running, complete with backlit strategy maps and over-caffeinated staffers plotting the next PR salvo.

Meanwhile McQuarrie has spent the past two months back-loading the cast with unassailable talent. He made up a lot of ground with the skeptics by casting Rosamund Pike -- the brainy ex-Bond girl who stole scenes as Paul Giamatti's shiksa goddess wife in "Barney's Version" -- as a tenacious defense attorney who comes to rely on Reacher to help prove her client has been framed. Then, in a masterstroke of timing, the writer-director ratcheted up the project's creative clout when he tapped David Oyelowo for a role as the local detective, on the heels of his back-to-back standout performances in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "The Help." In the same week, McQuarrie scored another direct hit enlisting the vast talents of Richard Jenkins -- the always-great journeyman actor who scored an Oscar nom for "The Visitor" -- to play the blood-lusty D.A. Then, as if to gild the Smith & Wesson, earlier this week Robart Duval -- a man who can legitimately stake a claim on being the best actor of his generation -- boarded the project in a small but pivotal role.

Talk about a stellar supporting cast. Could this have anything to do with a certain "One Shot" big shot with a history of  fending off negative publicity surrounding his association with a controversial religious organization with his industrial-strength charm and highly combustible legal team? In all likelihood, the answer is: Yes. And though we're still unconvinced Cruise's outsized persona will compensate for his physical inconsistencies with the character as written, McQuarrie has yet to make an uninteresting film. We're talking about the man who created Keyser Soze. So, for the time being, we're placing our faith in McQuarrie.

Has anyone else been convinced or converted by the strong supporting cast or Lee Child's entreaties to reserve judgement? Are there any "One Shot" diehards bold enough to come out in support of Cruise? Finally, does anyone disagree with our assessment that these supporting characters add heft and credibility where it may have been lacking?