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Reacher at the Movies

January 15, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

A week ago in the WSJ, Steve Oney had big news on the first film version of a Jack Reacher thriller. It will be a movie version of One Shot, the ninth of Lee Child’s sixteen Jack Reacher novels. There’s been a limited amount of information at the Lee Child website, which now says the release date is February 8, 2013, and whose FAQ page refers back to the WSJ article for more information.

I read One Shot at the beginning of July 2009. Looking back at the post I wrote at the time, I see that I wasn’t yet ready to give Reacher his due. Child kept me reading until 1:11 AM, but I hesitated to express admiration for the book. In retrospect, it’s one of the best in the series, a great choice for a movie — if a movie must be made.

I am sure many Reacher fans share my view that we’d be better off without Reacher movies. The character is so well conceived. Movies won’t improve him. Indeed, they are sure to mis-represent him. In the WSJ article, Lee Child gives his own take of the problem:

Hollywood storytelling typically relies on character arcs in which the hero faces a number of moral dilemmas so he can change and grow.

Reacher is the opposite of that, Mr. Child says. “His appeal is that he does not change one iota. He’s the same at the end of a novel as he was at the beginning, and he doesn’t learn anything either, because he knew it all to start with.”

Mr. Child cites another book-to-film difficulty—movies have trouble with interior monologues. “Readers like being in Reacher’s head, thinking along with him,” he says, “and my novels have a lot of long, internal passages that depend on Reacher’s thought processes, his own quirkiness, his intuition, his mental capacity. There’s no movie way of showing what an actor is thinking.”

Right. So why make the movie?

Alas, it is being filmed this moment, with the diminutive Tom Cruise playing the oversized Reacher, which is another problem altogether, one the article discusses in detail.

No doubt I’ll see the movie when it comes out. How can I resist? The more exciting news is that Reacher #17, A Wanted Man, will be out on Tuesday, September 25. Not the best timing for me, unfortunately, with the academic year starting the day before and Yom Kippur starting that evening. Can I spend Yom Kippur at home reading Reacher? I may have to wait for the weekend.

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Categories: Books, Movies
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