Jack Reacher is a West Point graduate and a Purple Heart recipient. He has no possessions but his toothbrush, and any clothes he’ll ever own will only be kept around for only a few days. He travels the United States by way of hitchhiking and bus. He is experienced in many fighting styles and has a vast knowledge of weaponry and how to use it effectively. He doesn’t often look for trouble, but when it finds him, and it often does, he does not quit. Not once, not ever. He is, in essence, the most badass military detective the world has ever seen. So, it might seem a bit strange that despite being a seemingly unstoppable force both on page and in book sales, Jack Reacher has had quite the pounding on his long road to film stardom.
First appearing in Lee Child’s 1997 debut novel, ‘Killing Floor’, and getting a film option by PolyGram soon thereafter, Reacher proved a difficult sell to moviemakers. Child, whose real name is Jim Grant, was disappointed with the progress, and while his man in Hollywood, Oscar winner Mark Johnson, shopped it around town, he continued to develop the character in further novels. In 1999 Polygram closed up shop, thus marking an end to Johnson’s involvement, yet Child, confident in his character’s appeal, carried on. 2002 saw a newer and more lucrative option with New Line, but it too failed, leaving Child with only his novels to keep him busy until 2005, when a couch jumping maniac and his pals would option the entire Reacher series with an eye on its ninth entry, ‘One Shot’. In 2008 A History of Violence’s John Olson was hired to write the ‘One Shot’ adaptation, but by 2010 writing duties had instead been transferred to Christopher McQuarrie, who had won an Oscar for scripting The Usual Suspects. McQuarrie also went on to direct the film, likely renamed Jack Reacher from its original title for marketing purposes.
The casting of Reacher is still much debated amongst fans. In the novels, Reacher is a former Military Police Corps. officer who, at just over 50 years of age, weighs in at a natural 250 pounds and is 6’5”. In a 2000 interview with his hometown’s paper, Child expressed his interest in Football Hall of Famer-turned-actor Howie Long, a man now known to many simply as “the guy from those Radio Shack commercials.” Obviously, time was not on Howie’s side. Interestingly enough, during that same interview Child quipped “definitely not Tom Cruise”, citing him as being too short. I’m sure that if ‘2000 Child’ and ‘2011 Child’ were to ever meet up in a wacky time travel scenario, they would have quite a laugh, because on July 16 of the latter year, it was confirmed. Tom Cruise had a new franchise.
Despite being based on the ninth book in the series, Jack Reacher will serve as the jumping off point for any future sequels. In it we will see our hero squaring off with authorities and criminals alike in his pursuit of the truth regarding the investigation of a suspected sniper, responsible for the deaths of five random people in a Pittsburgh public plaza.
After Cruise signed on, the rest of the primaries were cast very soon after. Signing first were English performers Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo. The incomparable Richard Jenkins came next, then legend Robert Duvall in a “small but vital” role. Spartacus: Blood and Sand star and spawn of John McClane, Jai Courtney was added two days later, and lastly and strangely the final major player was revealed to be director Werner Herzog, in his first non-cameo acting role.
Originally set to be released in 2013, Paramount moved up the film’s release to mirror the same calendar spot as Cruise’s last actioner, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. This placed the troubled Brad Pitt starrer, World War Z, whose spot it took, into June of 2013. Set for a US premier in Pittsburgh on December 15, the event was indefinitely postponed due to the recent Sandy Hook shooting, and the marketing campaign was altered to feature no appearances of weapons or their resultant use. Unlike Gangster Squad, which was taken back in front of cameras in response to the Colorado theater shooting in July, Jack Reacher is still on schedule to open into wide release tomorrow, on it’s planned December 21, and will go unedited and unaltered when it does.
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