Tom Cruise is in talks to star as rugged former U.S. Army cop Jack Reacher in writer-director Christopher McQuarrie’s adaptation of Lee Child’s 2005 novel One Shot for Paramount, EW has confirmed. (Deadline first reported the news.) Cruise has apparently been circling Reacher for some time, which may come as a surprise to fans of Child’s best-selling thriller series. But even though Cruise doesn’t fit the physical description of Jack Reacher in the books (6’5″, 250 pounds, not particularly attractive), I think the now-middle-aged star would be terrific in the role.

Reacher is like a grittier, real-world version of Ethan Hunt from the Mission: Impossible series — he drifts from town to town with no luggage, pitching in to help crime victims, and using his military training and resourcefulness to get out of jams. (In One Shot, first published in 2005, he investigates a sniper attack in Indiana.) Reacher knows how to throw punches, but he also feels the effects when a punch is thrown. It’s refreshing to see Cruise bypassing yet another comic-book movie for a potential franchise like this that’s action-oriented but more character-driven and grounded in reality. McQuarrie, whose last directing credit was 2000’s The Way of the Gun, is best known as the screenwriter behind The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie (starring Cruise), and the recently tabled The Wolverine. Interestingly, 2005’s One Shot isn’t the first Reacher book, or even one of the best. (EW gave it a B–.) But I’ll be first in line to see how Cruise embodies one of my favorite thriller heroes.

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