Sunday 30 December 2012

Jack Reacher

I went on a post Christmas cinema binge and saw three films.

The Hobbit (High Frame Rate version, simultaneously magnificent and laughable), The Life of Pi (anything with wildlife in it, especially big cats, get my vote every time), and Jack Reacher.

Now, I was aware of Reacher as a character in a series of books by Lee Child (great name, and actually the pen name for British thriller writer Jim Grant).

The Jack Reacher (another unusual name) novels are intriguing in that  some are told in the first person and some in the third person.

They came to my attention — they could hardly have failed to come to my attention — when Child got a ten million dollar advance (you had me at ten) for the latest tranche of the series.

I asked my friend Ben Aaronovitch about this. Whether the books by this guy could possibly be worth such a sum.

Before becoming himself a bestselling writer, Ben had worked in a book shop. He said that, judging by the way the Lee Child books flew off the shelves, the publishers had got a good deal.

There are currently 18 Jack Reacher novels. The book the Tom Cruise film is based on is One Shot, the ninth in the series. Interesting that this was chosen to launch the film franchise.

I had worried that Jack Reacher wasn’t the best title for a movie  (like the recent, lukewarm Alex Cross). But it's growing on me.

In any case, the film is a cracking thriller which I enjoyed immensely. It pushed all the right buttons, had a superb cast, excellent music (by Joe Kraemer, a new name to me), with photography by the celebrated Caleb Deschanel.

The film was written for the screen and directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

McQuarrie worked on the classic Steve Bochco-David Milch cop show NYPD Blue and jumped to fame with his first produced film script The Usual Suspects, for which he won a slew of awards, including the Oscar. Since then I’ve particularly enjoyed his script for the under-rated Valkyrie.

And now he has hit the jackpot with Jack Reacher where his work is outstanding, both as a writer and director.

Like last year’s excellent Liam Neeson vehicle Unknown, McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher proved to be a superior, involving and gripping thriller which was intelligent and kept me guessing.

And it has left me deeply interested in the Lee Child books.

I’ll report back about Jack Reacher in prose.

Of those three films I saw in my post Yuletide binge, The Hobbit, Life of Pi and Jack Reacher, I was startled to discover that I liked Jack Reacher best — and by quite a long way.

(Images: Mostly pretty obvious sources this time. The Jack Reacher US film poster is from IMDB. The photo of Lee Child/Jim Grant at Boucher Con is from Wikipedia. The best cover image of the novel One Shot is the original US hardcover edition, a lovely piece of design. The picture is from a bookstore called Powell's. The image of The Usual Suspect’s iconic and much imitated poster is from Johnny Chadda's site. Valkyrie is again from Wikipedia.)

1 comment:

  1. Another interesting entry in your blog.
    How is you perusal of Philip MacDonald's book going?
    Have a Happy New Year.