Reading the Screen: Lee Child's Jack Reacher

one-shotAccording to this story at the Hollywood Reporter, Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects and Valkyrie, is writing, and maybe even directing, an adaptation of One Shot (2005), one of Lee Child’s novels about Jack Reacher, the former military policeman who keeps winding up knee-deep in trouble.

This is very good news. The Reacher novels  are terrific thrillers (the 14th, 61 Hours, was just published in hardcover). Child is a talented writer, and his protagonist, Reacher, is well drawn and sympathetic. McQuarrie has shown that he knows how to write a screenplay that is rich with characterization and dialogue that rings true, so he’s an excellent choice.

I haven’t seen The Way of the Gun, the 2000 movie he directed, but I’ve read some nice things about it. Roger Ebert, to name one of the bigger names, called McQuarrie “a born director.” So that bodes well for One Shot, too.

I’m not sure why they’ve picked One Shot in particular to turn into a movie — it’s not the best in the series; in fact it’s one of the weaker entries — but I’m eager to see Reacher on the big screen. I know there’s a rather vocal online discussion over whether 24‘s Jack Ryan is a sort of televisual clone of Reacher, but who would you cast as Reacher in the movie?



About the Author:

David Pitt lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition to reviewing for Booklist, he writes a monthly column about paperback fiction and nonfiction for the Winnipeg Free Press. He has contributed to The Booklist Reader since 2010.

23 Comments on "Reading the Screen: Lee Child's Jack Reacher"

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  1. Bill Ott says:

    Casting Jack Reacher is a real puzzler–nobody comes to mind off the bat. The problem is that the actor needs to have a real physical presence–Reacher is a big, intimidating guy. Most of today’s A-list actors seem too metrosexual to play him.

    • David Pitt says:

      It’s a shame Peter Coyote is outside the age bracket for the character. He’s got the right look, and definitely the right voice.

  2.' lynda battleman says:

    Jack Reacher who impresses everyone with his size and strength requires a very physical and dark actor. Perhaps, Ian Neilson( I am certain that I have misspelled his name) could pump up a bit and do the role.

  3.' Cindy says:

    I’d cast Liam Neeson….

  4.' Thomas Condon, MA says:

    I read that Lee Child was impressed with (honest…I’m not making this up!) (yecchh!) Ben freakin’ Affleck!
    Please PLEASE DO NOT cast Affleck as my hero Jack Reacher! I’ll kill myself and THEN YOU!
    Okay… That may be a bit drastic…
    I will write a nasty blog and will NEVER go to a Reacher movie with Affleck! EVER!

  5.' Thomas Condon, MA says:

    Neeson’s great but not in this role.
    Coyote, alas, is too old.
    Whoever is cast needs to TOWER over his co-stars and have hands the size of dinner plates! He needs to have the back and stomach RIPPED from his work digging pools with nothing but pick and shovel!
    WHO is that going to be? I’d be willing to bet the casting director will need to go to Australia to get a man of that stature who can affect an American style conversational speech pattern.
    I would LOVE to cast this picture! Give me a year and unlimited travel budget and I’d find Jack Reacher!

  6. David Pitt says:


    As much as I respect Ben Affleck as a director, you’re right: he’d be all wrong as Jack Reacher.

    But I wonder if the movie needs someone as you describe, with the dinner-plate hands and ripped stomach. If you’re casting Doc Savage, sure, but I never got from the novels that Jack looks like that. I picture a more ordinary looking man whose most important strength comes from his character and his wits — the movie, I think, needs someone who can project those more subtle qualities.

    Which is why I keep coming back to Neeson, when I imagine Reacher on screen. Or Daniel Craig, perhaps.

  7.' Gina says:

    Karl Urban.

  8. David Pitt says:

    Karl Urban would be an excellent choice. If they cast him, I’d support your claim to a finder’s fee.

    Not that they’d listen to me, but you know….

  9.' terry says:

    Michael Clarke Duncan

  10.' chilly says:

    Either Kevin McKidd or Ray Stevenson from the HBO series “Rome” would make an awesome Jack Reacher.

  11.' Irisht2 says:

    Has anyone thought about Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”-36 yrs old. Not sure how his acting ability would be for this role but he would fit physically for Reacher.

  12.' Irisht2 says:

    Another actor whose looks and attitude could carry the part may be to short that actor is Jonathan Rhys Meyers but he is only 5’10”

  13. Keir Graff says:

    With respect, I’d have to vote against Dwayne Johnson. But I like the Ray Stevenson suggestion!

  14.' Cindy says:

    I’ve changed my mind and will give my recommend for Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb from “Firefly”)…he’d be perfect for the part.

  15. david pitt says:

    Here’s a thought: Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He’s almost the right height (six-two), he’s got the right build, and he’s the right age (mid-forties).

  16.' Pat Vaughn says:

    Look at Josh Duhamel .. 6′ 3 1/2 …late 30’s, played football, worked construction (should have a few muscles left)…

  17.' Pete in PB says:

    Reaching back into ancient (TV) history, I envision someone who would look and sound like Clint Walker, polished as an Academy graduate would be, and big as a bear. Who knows an actor today who fits that mold?

  18.' Lee says:

    I think of Jack Reacher and Mitch Rapp, as biggger than life characters. I love both of them. No way should Tom Cruise play either one. I see Russell Crowe or if only Mark Walberg were taller, not the cutsy boy.

  19.' Maruchy says:

    I love all the actors mentioned but my vote is for Chance Kelly. Chance Kelly. Chance Kelly. This seasoned and under-exposed actor will bring Reacher to life on the big screen without leaving you with that ‘artificial aftertaste’ you experience after seeing a movie with a big name star. Reacher fans deserve to escape into the story with a leading man that can embody Child’s character both body and soul.

  20.' louie lee says:

    Jonathan Rhys Meyers would be my vote. His Stature on screen is huge look at Tudors. We haven’t seen enough of this Irishmans talents.

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