The film was released in North America on December 21. The musical score was composed by Joe Kraemer, performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony and recorded at the Sony Scoring Stage in Culver City, California. Cruise performed all of his own driving stunts during the film's signature car chase sequence. Cruise reprised his role in the sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, based on the 2013 novel Never Go Back, which was released in October 2016.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a man drives a van into a parking garage across the Allegheny River from PNC Park and, after dropping a quarter into the meter, readies a sniper rifle. He takes aim and kills five people on the river's North Shore Trail from long range before fleeing in the van.
The police soon arrive at the scene of the murder, headed by Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo), and discover a shell casing as well as the quarter used to pay for parking. A fingerprint taken from the coin points to James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a former U.S. 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 the District Attorney, Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins), 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. Thinking Barr is going to confess when he takes the notepad, they are bewildered when he instead writes "Get Jack Reacher". Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a drifter and former U.S. Army Military Police Corps 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 the suspect. Barr, as it turns out, was brutally attacked by fellow inmates while in police custody and is now in a coma. Reacher meets Barr's defense attorney, counselor Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), the District Attorney's daughter, who has been saddled with the apparently hopeless task of saving Barr from the death penalty.
Helen says she can arrange for Reacher to see the evidence if he will become her lead investigator. Reacher retorts that he is not interested in clearing Barr. 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 U.S. 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 this location, thinking that a trained shooter would have done the killings from the cover of the van on the nearby Fort Duquesne Bridge. 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.
After an apparently spurious bar fight, Reacher realizes that someone is attempting to strong-arm him into dropping his investigation. Reacher is later framed for the murder of the young woman who was paid to instigate the bar-room brawl, but this only motivates him further. Reacher eventually follows up a lead at a shooting range in the neighboring state of Ohio, owned by former U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Martin Cash (Robert Duvall), who will talk only if Reacher will demonstrate his U.S. Army sniping skills.
The real perpetrators are gang members masquerading as legitimate businessmen. The gang's elderly leader (Werner Herzog) spent much of his life in a Soviet Gulag and is known only as the Zec (prisoner). The gang kidnaps Helen with the aid of Detective Emerson and holds her hostage at a quarry. After he steals Helen's Mercedes-Benz, Reacher outwits the mob guards, killing them with Cash's help, before confronting the Zec about the conspiracy. Zec points out that Reacher has killed most of the witnesses against him and doubts that he would be convicted. 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 that Reacher's theory was correct from the beginning. Still unaware of all these developments, Barr is willing to confess and accept his punishment, fearing that Reacher will mete out justice if the law does not.
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.
Production on the film began in October 2011. 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 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 color 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 December 18, 2012 by La-La Land Records.Track listing
The trailer for Jack Reacher was officially released on Cruise's birthday, July 3, 2012.
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 December 21, 2012, hoping to capitalize 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 December 21, 2012, with a premiere initially planned for Pittsburgh's SouthSide Works megaplex on December 15, 2012, which was to be attended by the film's stars, and Child.
On December 15, 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 that 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 December 10, 2012 at London's Odeon Leicester Square. It was released on December 26, 2012 in the U.K.
Jack Reacher was released onto Blu-ray and DVD formats in the United Kingdom on April 22 and in North American territories on May 7, 2013 by Paramount Home Media Distribution. The Blu-ray release contains two commentary tracks and three behind-the-scenes featurettes.
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. CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade filmgoers gave the film was an "A-" on an A+ to F scale. Jack Reacher went on to gross $5.1 million on its opening day in the U.S. 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 a foreign total of $136,497,530.
Jack Reacher received mixed reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 62%, based on 169 reviews, with a rating average of 6.2/10. The site's summary is that, "Jack Reacher is an above-average crime thriller with a smoothly charismatic performance from Tom Cruise." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 50 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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 lackluster 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 December 9, 2013, it was announced that Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions were moving forward with the development of a sequel reportedly based upon the 2013 Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back.
Principal photography on the sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, began on October 20, 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 October 21, 2016 in IMAX and conventional formats. It grossed $161 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics.