Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, badass drifter and former U.S. Army Military Police Corps officer
Pittsburgh, October 2012
Film: Jack Reacher
Release Date: December 21, 2012
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Costume Designer: Susan Matheson
Tom Cruise’s Costumer: Nancy Thompson
BAMF Style’s semi-annual Car Week is returning this winter with more looks at cool outfits and cool cars. Today’s post examines Jack Reacher, the 2012 adaptation of Lee Child’s 2005 novel One Shot. Although it was the ninth of Child’s novels to feature the character of Jack Reacher, the 2012 movie became the first time that the character was represented on screen.
Many fans rebelled against the casting of 5’7″ Tom Cruise to play the 6’5″ Jack Reacher. I have yet to read any of Lee Child’s series (although I would like to!), but I felt that Cruise’s Jack Reacher was a taciturn, clever, and unstoppable force who delivered believability into the action scenarios. Lee Child even defended the decision, saying that “Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way… 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.”
I was also impressed to learn that Cruise did most of the stunt driving when behind the wheel of Reacher’s comandeered 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454, barreling across Pittsburgh’s famous bridges, tunnels, and hills with unglamorous force.
And, speaking of that, I was delighted to see my hometown of Pittsburgh so present on screen. Thanks to Pennsylvania’s tax credit program, Pittsburgh has become a more frequent presence on screen (think Gotham City in The Dark Knight Rises and the first episode of Justified) but Jack Reacher went an extra step by not only filming in the region but also proudly using the city as the backdrop for the action.
What’d He Wear?
In response to the frequent criticism of the choice to cast Tom Cruise in such an imposing role, Vanity Fair ran a calculation of Jack Reacher’s “badass quotient” in October 2012, based on the film’s trailer. It included snippets like this:
Layers clothing for varying weather conditions (see: leather jacket, flannel shirt, button-up undershirt) rather than eschewing climate considerations to wear, at most, one layer (see: any Sylvester Stallone movie). -2
When it begins to rain, Cruise boldly does not remove his leather jacket or even appear to consider the potential for water-stain damage. +2
Unlike some action heroes (looking at you, Mr. Bond), we get a sense that Jack Reacher couldn’t care less about his clothing, merely wearing exactly what he needs for each situation without caring where it came from or where it’s going after he’s done with it. We first meet Reacher in sunny Florida, certainly a setting that calls for his lightweight Aloha shirt and khakis. Once he knows he’s off to Pittsburgh where October is certainly not considered a warm month, he heads off to the local Goodwill to pick out a comfortable and functional fall wardrobe.
The centerpiece of Reacher’s lucky Goodwill finds is a distressed brown full-grain leather jacket with a short standing collar. The jacket is hip-length with swelling around the straight bottom hem. It zips up the front with a brass YKK zipper and a short fly tab that extends the full length of the zip-front, ending about an inch down from the top.
A strip extends from the base of the collar at the neck, over the shoulders, and halfway down each arm, ending at a seam that “rings” around each elbow. The jacket’s raglan sleeves end with plain cuffs that are slightly flared with triangle stitching on the back of each cuff.
With most of the seams and swelling present on the sleeves and back, the front of the jacket is relatively clean-looking with just a slanted jetted hand pocket on each side.
The back of the jacket incorporates several elements perfect for an action-oriented badass who needs to make some rapid motions. Behind each armpit is a curved pleat with swelled edges. On each side at the bottom hem is a short vent that closes with a zipper. The rest of the back is plain aside from a seam that crosses from vent to vent along the back, a few inches from the bottom.
As soon as photos of Cruise as Reacher hit the internet, replicas in varying degrees of accuracy and quality started popping up like this one and this one on Amazon. The Reacher jacket also inspired the USW Vintage Steerhide Urban Adventurer Jacket, available for $195 from U.S. Wings (as of December 2016.) With similar details such as the collar, inside fly, and zip side vents, the USW replica appears to be the closest approximation to Cruise’s screen jacket save for the actual jacket that was sold at auction.
Reacher’s trip to Goodwill also yields a cotton flannel shirt in navy blue and hunter green plaid. The minimal contrast between the two dark colors delivers an understatedly rugged and muted appearance with additional structure coming from the trim fit and the tall button-down collar.
The shirt’s spread collar buttons down on the front points and in the back center. It has seven black plastic buttons down the front placket with the top few undone to expose the henley underneath. The button cuffs are also worn undone and gently half-rolled up to reveal the henley’s cuffs. There is a horizontal yoke straight across the back of the shirt, and the gently curved hem is slightly longer in the front and back, but he typically wears the shirt tucked in.
Reacher’s off-white henley undershirt falls somewhere on the ivory and bone color spectrum. It is a “waffle” knit thermal cotton long-sleeve shirt with three well-spaced white plastic buttons on the reinforced placket, including one on the shirt’s short crew neck collar. The long sleeves end in plain cuffs with no ribbing. The bottom hem is straight.
The experts at Iconic Alternatives researched an exhaustive list of affordable and fashionable options for folks hoping to channel Jack Reacher with their own white or off-white henley shirts, found here.
Reacher wears a pair of dark indigo blue denim jeans with a straight leg, zip fly, and brass rivets detailing the standard five-pocket layout. Best seen during the final fight scene at the quarry, the jeans appear to have a double set of belt loops on the right side.
TheTake identified Levi’s 505™ Regular Fit jeans in “rinse” wash as a close match to the jeans worn in Jack Reacher. Described as “the original zip fly, first created in 1967,” Levi’s 505™ jeans are available from the Levi’s site (for $59.50) and Amazon (for as low as $24, depending on the size.)
Although the exact brand of Reacher’s jeans is still uncertain, his boots have been positively identified as Frye Dakota Mid Suede boots in “fatigue” brown. As the name implies, these top-stitched work boots are made from 100% waxed suede leather with heavy black rubber soles and 1″ heels. The open, derby style lacing consists of five brass eyelets and two lace hooks on the shaft.
The actual boots are available on Amazon but sold out in the exact “fatigue” brown color; the next best option is the same Frye boot in “dark brown pebble”. His socks are not clearly seen, but he seems like the type to wear military surplus wool socks in a neutral color like taupe, khaki, or gray.
After being framed for murder, Reacher evades his police pursuers on Ninth Street and Penn Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh and slips into a crowd waiting for a Port Authority bus in front of Pizza Parma. In the spirit of the salt-of-the-earth yinzers that define western Pennsylvania, Reacher is wordlessly lent a charcoal gray Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap with a curved bill.
This charcoal cotton fitted cap has the familiar raised “P” logo embroidered in black with a cream border. This particular cap doesn’t appear to be available any longer, but the MLB shop offers several ’47 brand hats that all reflect the same spirit and coloring – with a few different details – as the one seen in Jack Reacher:
- Men’s Pittsburgh Pirates 47 Charcoal Cream Goosage Closer Flex Hat
- Men’s Pittsburgh Pirates 47 Black Humboldt Franchise Fitted Hat
- Men’s Pittsburgh Pirates 47 Charcoal Sachem Franchise Fitted Hat
Jack Reacher’s Guide to Pittsburgh
Jack Reacher was filmed entirely on location in Pittsburgh with Tom Cruise and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie both reporting how much they enjoyed working in the city.
What to See
Reacher enjoys a particularly scenic murder investigation, taking in views of PNC Park from across the Allegheny River at the 625 Stanwix Tower garage. PNC Park opened during the 2001 MLB season to replace the aging Three Rivers Stadium, which had been home to both the Pirates and the Steelers for decades.
The film also includes nice views of Pittsburgh’s famous downtown Point State Park (“The Point”) at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. I was also delighted to see my office building, EQT Plaza at 625 Liberty Avenue, featured on screen. (My actual office on the 24th floor was used in the 2015 boxing drama Southpaw where one of our agency’s conference rooms doubled as 50 Cent’s office.)
Where to Eat
Pittsburgh’s status as an amazing food city is a relatively new development with talented chefs opening up hot new restaurants at a startlingly frequent rate, especially given that the city’s culinary mainstay for decades was putting fries on sandwiches. Despite this foodie renaissance in the ‘Burgh, Jack Reacher keeps his dining options traditional.
Reacher meets Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) for breakfast at DeLuca’s Diner, located in the historic Strip District. DeLuca’s serves breakfast and lunch all day and prides itself on having “the best breakfast in town” since 1950. Other contenders for the title are the traditional local chains like Eat’n Park and Pamela’s or newer spots like Harris Grill in Shadyside and Meat & Potatoes downtown.
Interestingly, Reacher heads to Mario’s South Side Saloon for dinner and a fight. Located on the 1500 block of East Carson Street in the heart of the South Side, Mario’s is better known to most Pittsburghers as a place to see Bud Lights, Rum & Coke, and the occasional Pittsburgh Penguin hanging out rather than a guy enjoying coffee and fries in a corner booth. The most realistic part of Reacher’s meal at Mario’s is his post-prandial brawl with five douchebags, an all-too-increasingly real aspect of the South Side. (Of course, the actual fight was filmed a few miles away on Smallman Street in the Strip District.)
NB: While the guys who confront Reacher at Mario’s are certainly assholes, at least one of them has cool taste and the admirable trait of supporting local brands. One guy wears a “412” hat by the brand taking its name from the city’s most prominent zip code. In addition to hats, FourOneTwo makes great t-shirts, hoodies, and accessories that deserve a prime spot in any Pittsburgher’s closet.
Where would I have suggested that Reacher go for dinner? My favorite downtown spots to grab a bite are Bakersfield, The Commoner in Hotel Monaco, and the aforementioned Meat & Potatoes. I live relatively close to downtown in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, so a local night out for me might mean Korean dinner at Green Pepper, followed by tiki drinks at Hidden Harbor (ask for Juls!), and finishing the night in the smoky Squirrel Hill Cafe (affectionately called “The Cage”).
Where to Stay
Jack Reacher eschews the boutique hotels that have been flocking to Pittsburgh, instead shacking up at the “Three Rivers Motel”… actually the closed Sewickley Country Inn on Ohio River Boulevard.
Better options, though likely more appropriate for a James Bond or Don Draper type, would be classic downtown mainstays like the Omni William Penn or the Renaissance. Newer hotels with hip, funky flavor include downtown options like Fairmont (with Andy’s wine bar and Habitat restaurant) and Hotel Monaco (with The Commoner and its rooftop Biergarten) or the new Ace Hotel in East Liberty, built in a former YMCA facility and home to the delicious Whitfield restaurant.
How to Get the Look
Jack Reacher’s outfit is timeless, durable, and practical… the perfect combination for an action-packed fall investigation in Pittsburgh.
- Brown distressed full-grain leather zip-front jacket with short standing collar, raglan sleeves, slanted jetted hand pockets, curved “action”-pleated back, and zip-up side vents
- Navy blue and hunter green plaid cotton flannel shirt with button-down collar, front placket, breast pocket, and button cuffs
- Off-white waffle-knit cotton thermal long-sleeve henley shirt with 3-button placket and plain cuffs
- Dark indigo blue wash denim jeans
- Frye Dakota Mid Suede “fatigue” brown top-stitched work boots with five brass lace eyelets, 2 lace hooks, and heavy black rubber soles
Show off your Pittsburgh pride with a subtle Pirates baseball cap as well. Reacher went with black-on-charcoal but the most classic look is gold-on-black.
Jack Reacher: Am I stealing your car?
Punk: Use it as long as you like.
Jack Reacher: You’re very kind.
In need of a set of wheels, Jack Reacher takes the opportunity while beating up some aggressive thugs to get his hands on a stunning red 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 with a bold black double “SS” stripe package. While the actual car on screen may not have been a legit SS 454 (and knowing that a total of six were destroyed during production, I should hope not!), it’s certainly a car worth writing about.
GM first introduced the Chevelle for the 1964 model year as a mid-sized competitor to the Ford Fairlane and Plymouth Belvedere, but Chevrolet was quick to deliver a Super Sport (SS) model that would directly take on the emerging muscle car segment currently populated by the Chrysler 300, Dodge Dart, and the new Ford Mustang. For 1968, the second generation of Chevelles received a sportier sculpted body with a 112-inch wheelbase for coupes and convertibles that was three inches shorter than that of sedans and wagons. With its 396 cubic-inch big-block V8 option, the Chevelle was clearly lining itself up as a muscle contender as Mopar continued to up the ante with offerings like the Dodge Charger and Plymouth Road Runner.
In 1970, the Chevelle rolled out its now-legendary SS 454 model with two engine offerings: the base LS5, rated at 360 horsepower, and the dangerous LS6, under-rated at 450 horsepower. The 1970 Chevelle LS6, of which only 4,475 were produced, is considered by some to be the apex of American muscle cars.
Body Style: 2-door hardtop sport coupe
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
Engine: 454 cubic inch (7.4 L) Chevrolet LS6 V8 with four-barrel Holley carburetor
Power: 450 hp (335.6 kW; 456 PS) @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 500 lb·ft (678 N·m) @ 3600 rpm
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Wheelbase: 112 inches (2845 mm)
Length: 197.2 inches (5009 mm)
Width: 75.4 inches (1915 mm)
Height: 52.6 inches (1336 mm)
It’s been reported that nine Chevelles were used during the filming with six destroyed. A Jack Reacher Chevelle would be fitted with SS badging, Radial T/A tires, and a four-speed manual transmission shifted by a white “cue ball” knob on the stick.
Though not an original LS6 SS454, the Chevelle featured in Jack Reacher is pretty damn cool… as is the fact that Tom Cruise evidently did all of his own driving on screen. In one scene during the nighttime police chase, Reacher’s Chevelle stalls after crashing into some barrels; Cruise was able to quickly restart the car before driving off again, and McQuarrie determined that the suspense of the moment made it worthy of keeping in the finished film.
Given his military experience and reputation for badassery, it’s no surprise that Jack Reacher knows his way around every weapon he gets his hands on. In the final gunfight, he handles both Detective Emerson’s Glock 19 pistol and the heavily modified SIG P556 SWAT/SG 550 carbine rifle with equal aplomb… but it’s his abilities with gun range operator Martin Cash’s Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifle that truly tests Reacher’s ability when Cash asks him to shoot three rounds into a target 700 yards away.
The Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifle has been offered in a variety of stock, barrel and caliber configurations since its introduction in 1962. Calibers can range from the small .17 Remington varmint-hunting round to the massive .458 Winchester Magnum for dangerous game as well as common civilian rounds like the .223 Remington and .308 Winchester. Depending on the caliber, this can mean an internal magazine of three, four, or five rounds or a detachable box magazine. The rifle operates with a manually-operated, three-piece rotating bolt.
In addition to the many civilian models, there have been several Model 700 variants for the police and military markets. As Martin Cash is an ex-Marine, it makes sense that he would respect the Remington Model 700, from which the USMC’s M40 sniper rifle was developed in 1966. Jack Reacher’s past in the U.S. Army may mean he was more familiar with the M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) variant of the same rifle.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Imagine you’ve spent your whole life in other parts of the world being told every day you’re defending freedom, and finally you decide you’ve had enough. Time to see what you’ve given up your whole life for. Maybe get some of that freedom for yourself. Look at the people. Now tell me which ones are free. Free from debt. Anxiety. Stress. Fear. Failure. Indignity. Betrayal. How many wish that they were born knowing what they know now? Ask yourself how many would do things the same way over again? And how many would live their lives like me?
The commercial success of Jack Reacher meant that it would be quickly greenlit for a sequel; indeed, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was filmed in New Orleans and was released in October 2016. The sequel, however, is not the only film inspired by Jack Reacher…
Tom Getty was walking back from his classes at the University of Pittsburgh one evening in 2012 when he encountered Tom Cruise among the cast and crew filming Jack Reacher. Inspired by the incident, Getty set out to create his own Pittsburgh-set blockbuster, filming Rising Fear on a $20 budget in western Pennsylvania. Rising Fear is currently available on Amazon.