By Anthony Breznican
April 24, 2012 at 07:00 AM EDT
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
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If Tom Cruise gives you the option of backing off before he kicks you squarely in the crotch — take it.

Monday night’s (ahem) kickoff to CinemaCon, the annual theater-owners convention in Las Vegas, revealed the first footage of Cruise as a street-fighting man, playing the rugged drifter Jack Reacher in next December’s crime drama One Shot. Let’s just say he’s not interested in a fair game of fisticuffs.

The scenes aren’t being released yet, but EW has all the details after the jump.

Based on the best-selling novels by Lee Child, Cruise’s casting last summer irked some fans of the books because Reacher, a former Army police officer, is described as being 6-foot-5 and weighing around 250 pounds. He’s a hulk of a man, roaming from town to town under various aliases, and turning vigilante when his sense of right and wrong is offended.

In a taped intro from the set of his sci-fi film Oblivion, currently shooting in Baton Rouge, Cruise acknowledged the physical differences, but said he had Child’s blessing. “For those of you who know the books, I’m obviously not 6-foot-5, like Jack Reacher,” the 5-foot-7 actor said with a laugh. “But Lee felt that I was the right guy to drive fast cars and kick the s–t out of people onscreen.”

With an attitude like that, clearly Cruise knows the spirit of this character.

Disclaimer: What follows doesn’t spoil any major plot points, but does describe the scenes in detail.

NEXT PAGE: All Cruise wants is a drink, all the girl wants is to flirt, and all the guys want is to fight…

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The first of the three scenes featured at CinemaCon begins in a crowded bar. (Mario’s on the South Side, for those who know Pittsburgh, where the movie was filmed.) Reacher is sitting alone at a table when a young woman approaches and attempts to hit on him. He’s not interested in the least.

“What’s your name?” she asks.

“Jimmie Reece,” he answers. Reacher is fond of using the names of old baseball players as aliases.

“So you’re new in town?” she asks.

“Usually,” he tells her.

Since this conversation is going nowhere fast, the girl ups the ante. “It’s kinda loud in here. Want to go somewhere quiet? I have a car.”

Reacher looks surprised. “You’re old enough to drive?”

She is undeterred. “I’m old enough to do a lot of things,” she says, batting her eyes.

Reacher sighs. “I’m on a budget,” he tells her, sinking back into his booth. “I can’t afford you.”

Now she’s offended. “I’m not a hooker.”

“Ooh,” he says, shaking his head. “Then I really can’t afford you.”

She still doesn’t get it, and insists that she works at an auto parts store. Reacher feels compelled to explain his insult. “What I mean is, the cheapest woman tends to be the one you pay for.”

Now she’s even more offended. “I am not a hooker!”

Reacher gives up. “No. A hooker would get the joke.”

Mysteriously, and conveniently, a group of young guys materializes to surround the table, asking what the problem is.

“He called me a whore,” the girl says, and her knights in shining armor ask him if that’s true.

“Nobody said ‘whore,'” Reacher explains. “She inferred ‘hooker’ … But I meant ‘slut.’”

“That’s our sister,” one of the guys snaps. Reacher studies them. They’re all about the same age, and none of them look alike.

“She a good kisser?” he asks the “brothers.”

That’s it. They invite him to finish the conversation outside, and after some more insulting back-and-forth, Reacher finally agrees, urging them to pay their bar tab beforehand, since he doesn’t think they’ll be in any position to do it after.

NEXT PAGE: Cruise fights dirty, and kicks where it counts…

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The scene continues on an empty nighttime street, apparently outside the bar. (Again, those who know Pittsburgh will be amused to see Cruise and Co. have traveled across a river and through most of downtown to brawl just outside the original Primanti Bros. restaurant in the Strip District neighborhood. That’s called movie magic, folks.)

The slutty girl is peppering Reacher with insults, but he just looks tired. He tells the leader of the guys, “This is your last chance to walk away,” then predicts that even though it’s five against one, two of the others will flee when they see the beating he gives the first three. “The last two guys, they always run.”

The tough guys smirk. They’re not backing down.

“Remember. You wanted this,” Reacher says. Seconds later, the leader of the group throws a punch, which Reacher easily dodges while sending a series of rapid shots to his opponent’s face.

Instead of letting the stunned young man collapse to the ground, Reacher holds him up and repeats reassuringly, “You’re okay … You’re o-kay …” a couple of times. Once the guy is steadied on his feet, Reacher steps back and delivers a field-goal-style kick to the young guy’s testicles.

Now that guy can feel free to collapse to the ground.

Although the kick connected squarely, the audience reaction in the theater might have suggested someone missing a field goal.

The other guys fall on him, of course, and in a brutal ballet, Reacher twists arms and cracks faces. At one point, he’s holding an attacker by one leg as the man hops around helplessly on the other. Reacher is studying two of the other thugs, who are standing there, contemplating fight or flight. When they decide to stick around and keep brawling, Reacher looks annoyed at being proven wrong.

“Really?” he says, punching the crotch of the guy whose leg he’s holding up.

Before the fight can continue much longer, sirens go off and Pittsburgh police cruisers swerve in to surround Reacher and his many fallen adversaries. “Impressive response time, fellas,” he says, as they order him onto the ground.

As Reacher comes face to face with the young man he brutally kicked, he’s aware that this was all a little too convenient. “Who hired you?” he asks, as the scene cuts to black.

NEXT PAGE: Cruise smashes his way through a Pittsburgh tunnel … in the wrong direction.

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In the next major sequence previewed at CinemaCon, the thing Reacher is beating the life out of this time is a 1970 Chevelle SS.

After pulling the car into a hotel parking lot and seeing paramedics take away a young woman on a stretcher, Reacher is hesitating. Then he’s spotted, and rather than stick around to find out what happened, the drifter decides to make a break for it and hit the gas.

Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore says Cruise did most of his own stunts for One Shot, and the actor was photographed on closed courses in Pittsburgh, burning rubber in the vintage Chevelle. It helps, maybe, that Reacher isn’t supposed to be a particularly amazing driver. He’s just desperate, particularly when driving the wrong way through a tunnel.

What follows is an extended cat and mouse sequence with Reacher prowling through alleyways, hoping to avoid notice, only to ferociously peel away whenever discovered before attempting to hide again. By the end, the character devises a truly clever plan that we won’t spoil here. Suffice to say, Reacher succeeds at pulling a very unlikely vanishing act.

But if Paramount has its way, Cruise’s take on Jack Reacher will become a franchise series for the studio, and we’ll get to see an awful lot of the character, whether he would like that or not.

One Shot, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) is due to open Dec. 21.

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Read More:

Tom Cruise cast as Lee Child’s rugged Jack Reacher

Werner Herzog the villain in Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher film

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