Every Live Action Jack Reacher Adaptation, Ranked (Movies & TV)


Here’s every live action Jack Reacher adaptation, including the Tom Cruise movies and Amazon’s TV series, ranked. The character of Jack Reacher first appeared in author Lee Child’s novel The Killing Floor, which was published in 1997. Reacher is a hulking ex-military policeman who wanders America and often gets into trouble. Childs claims the personality of Reacher was inspired by going in the opposite direction of fictional detective characters that were popular at the time, who were often cynical or addicted to various substances. Reacher, in contrast, is noble and kind, but conversely has little issue with taking the law into his own, giant hands.

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the Jack Reacher books have been running since the ’90s, and their popularity made an adaptation inevitable. Finding an actor to fill Reacher’s shoes was always going to be an issue since his description reads like Dolph Lundgren, and few movie stars are built that way. That was one reason Tom Cruise’s casting for 2012’s Jack Reacher was controversial with readers, who felt he was utterly wrong for the part. Childs himself defended the choice, stating Reacher’s size in the books was almost a metaphor for his being an unstoppable force, a quality that Cruise brought out in other ways.


Related: Why The Jack Reacher Show Is So Different From Tom Cruise’s Movies

Of course, Childs was more than happy when Alan Ritchson – who practically looks like he walked out of the novels – took over for the Amazon series. Here’s every Jack Reacher live action adaptation ranked.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

Easily the least of the adaptations is Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, where Cruise reprized the title role. The sequel was based upon the 18th novel Never Go Back, where Reacher is on the run after being framed for murder and also encounters a teen girl who may be his daughter. While Tom Cruise gives the same steely turn as Reacher, the sequel falls consistently flat. Ed Zwick’s direction is lackluster, the mystery – especially surrounding Reacher’s “daughter” – fails to engage and the action and supporting characters are totally forgettable. Never Go Back is an oddly passionless outing that marked the end of Cruise’s run with the character.


Jack Reacher (2012)

Faring is much better Jack Reacherwhich was Cruise’s first time being directed by future Mission: Impossible Helmer Christopher McQuarrie. Jack Reacher adapted Child’s ninth novel One Shot, where Cruise’s Reacher helps investigate a seemingly random shooting by a sniper. While he lacks the size and bulk of the literary character, Cruise is never less than great in the role while the supporting cast – including Rosamund Pike and Werner Herzog – are an embarrassment of riches. The mystery is also a compelling one while McQuarrie stages the action with panache. The reputation of Jack Reacher – which is available on Prime – has seemed to grow in the years since its release, and while it’s not perfect, it’s an underrated action thriller.


Reacher (2022)

Entertaining as the first movie is, reacher is the best live-action adaptation of the character to date. The first season of Amazon’s series is based on the first novel The Killing Floor, where the nomadic titular character investigates the murder of his brother in a small town run by a ruthless businessman. Alan Ritchman has both the look, demeanor and dry humor down pat, with co-stars Willa Fitzgerald and Malcolm Goodwin also being perfectly cast. While chiefly a thriller, reacher – where Childs had a cameo – makes sure to throw in a fight scene or two per episode, and while the dialogue can often be a little too glib for its own good and some episodes spread the story thin, it’s the best Jack Reacher adaptation to date.


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