Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher is notable for its clever fight scenes and visceral car chases featuring his suped-up 1970 Chevelle SS, and in celebration of the film's upcoming Blu-ray release (out May 7), Paramount invited me to take part in a "Jack Reacher Training Day" on the studio backlot where select scenes for the Christopher McQuarrie-directed movie were filmed.
The invitation read: "Can you: Take out five guys simultaneously? Chase down a suspect at high speed in a stolen car? Disable your opponents in a brutal, no-holds-barred street fight? No? Then you need to come to Jack Reacher Training Day." Then as a footnote at the bottom, it read: "Be sure to wear comfortable clothes, preferably something you don't mind getting blood on."
How could I resist? Beneath a telling, giant banner sporting Reacher's memorable quote, "Remember, you wanted this," Jack Reacher assistant fight coordinator and stunt coordinator Rob Alonzo (who also worked with Cruise on the last two Mission: Impossible movies) explained the Keysi Fighting Method to me. A fighting technique the actually does not involve punching, but lots of elbows, knees, hammer fists and forward, close-quarters engagement, Keysi was developed on the streets by close observers of those 2 a.m. bar brawls that are practically over before they start.
"Jack Reacher is a character that constantly moves forward and doesn't move back; he moves without regret," explains Alonzo. "Spatially, you have to allow your opponents to come in much, much closer."
Alonzo put me through the paces in a choreographed brawl with a trio of stunt men/attackers that matches the moves Cruise uses in Jack Reacher. Afterwards, I noshed on complimentary diner food and coffee (Jack Reacher loves his coffee!) and then climbed into the film's 1970 Chevelle SS with the film's stunt driver Joey Box, who explained that Cruise did pretty much all of his own driving, even the sequences in which he's colliding with other cars.
"We padded him up and belted him in. … We had a five-point harness that we incorporated into his wardrobe," says Box, who explained that the big chase sequence in Jack Reacher is inspired by such films as To Live and Die in L.A. and Steve McQueen's Bullitt. Leaning against the Chevelle SS "ramming car" reinforced with a steel grill, Box added, "Any time he had to crash into somebody, he was in this car. … He did a great job."
Joey took me for a spin around the New York streets of the Paramount backlot, but unfortunately we couldn't really let loose. "No breaking traction," he said with a smile. "I was told not to do that." Still, we encountered a studio tour on a golf cart making its way around the streets, and being a little dizzy from the car's fumes, the temptation was pretty great to show off a bit...
In Jack Reacher, a rogue sniper takes five lives with six shots in a public thoroughfare in Pittsburgh, and all evidence points to the suspect in custody, who offers up a single communiqué: "Get Jack Reacher!" So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting the no-nonsense Jack against an unexpected enemy with a skill for violence and a secret to keep.
Arriving on Blu-ray/DVD May 7, Jack Reacher is available for Digital Download now.