This Jack Reacher is going to be great

Jack Reacher is a popular action hero. Hatched by the British writer Lee Child , Reacher has so far righted wrongs in 26 novels and a s...


Jack Reacher is a popular action hero. Hatched by the British writer Lee Child, Reacher has so far righted wrongs in 26 novels and a slew of short stories; the books have collectively sold over 100 million copies worldwide.

Their readership is a surprisingly large group, and includes the novelist Margaret Drabble and the author of “His Dark Materials” Philippe Pullmann. But ask any of them the first thing that comes to mind about Reacher, and the answer will probably be that it’s big. Real big. Reacher is a 6-foot-5 bruiser who weighs around 250 pounds, most of that muscle.

The creators of the new Amazon series ” To reach “, based on the first book, “Killing Floor”, from 1997, were aware that they had to get that sheer mass or risk displeasing the fans, who were largely skeptical, to say the leastfrom the cast of Tom Cruise in two previous Reacher adaptations.

“I know a lot of people have had their thoughts on the movies,” said Nick Santora, the series’ showrunner. “When I sat down with the studio, we just started talking about the epic, mythical height of Reacher. It was always a conversation that he would be big – we had to find an actor who fit the books.

“But that doesn’t mean Tom Cruise hasn’t done a fantastic job,” Santora quickly added.

Enter Alan Ritchson, a 6-foot-3 actor with biceps the size of Serrano hams, fresh off three seasons of playing the crime-fighting Hawk in the “Titans” series. The child was impressed.

“Before I was a writer, I worked almost 20 years in television, so I know what’s going on,” Child said in a recent video call. As production progressed, he could see that “it turned out better than I could dream of”.

“How many times does this happen?” he added. “Almost never. And it was mostly up to Alan – not to make it too big.

As for Ritchson, 39, he was downright starry-eyed. And intimidated – not usual for a man his size.

“Meeting Lee was one of the most trying experiences of my life,” he said on a joint call with Child. “He lived with this character for 25 years. Will I be enough?

Finding an actor who would be believable as a hulking, hyper-analytical, and seemingly indestructible former military police officer—a man who technically doesn’t have superpowers but could just as well—was an important box to tick, but not the only one. . A major appeal of the Reacher books is their familiarity: Over the years, they’ve amassed a beloved canon of recurring details, and it was important for the TV crew to get a good grasp of them.

“We had a list of do’s and don’ts,” Santora said. “Never ask for cream and sugar in Reacher’s coffee; he drinks black coffee. Never let Reacher treat a woman like a second-class citizen because she might be shorter than him – the truth is, everyone is shorter than him. There is this very beautiful simplicity in the man, even if he is a complex character.

Ritchson, who had done his homework, came to the role with a similar mind. “I want to be as authentic as possible,” he explained, “and I don’t want to be ridiculed by the many hardcore fans who are going to remember that detail from the book and think we got it wrong.”

And when in doubt, Santora had access to the ultimate authority: Child himself, who was executive producer and involved in the entire process.

Having the creator on tap was handy, especially when it became clear that filling out an eight-episode arc would require beefing up the “Killing Floor” plot. The novel has Reacher – who is essentially homeless and wanders around the country, mostly by bus, with just the clothes on his back and a toothbrush – running into some really bad people in a fictional town in Georgia. For the television series, Santora and her writers imported a key character from other novels.

They also added a small subplot involving a dog.

“We wanted to show a bit of Reacher that’s not in the book but true to it,” Santora said. “And it also shows Reacher’s morality.”

The child didn’t mind (and approved the changes). After all, verbatim adherence to the source material may not, in and of itself, automatically translate to good television, especially since there is a huge potential audience out there that hasn’t read a single line on Reacher .

“It was a very faithful adaptation, in my opinion, compared to a lot of other things you see,” Child said, “but it’s absolutely unavoidable that you have to bring in other things to explain the character.”

“It’s not necessarily book readers – we already have them,” he added. “We have to keep them happy, which I think we totally did, and at the same time put on a show that anyone can just come and love.”

One thing about Reacher that doesn’t need explaining to fans of the book — or newcomers, after about halfway through the pilot — is that he’s a fighting machine that always ends in a fight. or three. The outcome is as predictable as Reacher’s coffee order, but it still had to be clear that he doesn’t relish violence for violence’s sake.

“He wouldn’t come out and look for a fight,” stunt coordinator Buster Reeves said in a video chat. “He’s always the biggest guy in the room and he knows that, so when he got into an altercation he wouldn’t go overboard to take out an opponent. He would just do what was necessary.

Even if you’re new to the Reacherverse, you might have already figured out that it’s on the side of good. Child usually compares Reacher to the knights-errant who wandered Europe in the Middle Ages, or the samurai of ancient Japan. (The writer has long said he set his books in the United States to give Reacher more room to roam.)

Creating him was partly a reaction against troubled anti-heroes who had become so fashionable that a sort of one-upmanship was taking place.

“The detective was an alcoholic, which was great the first time around, real trouble, real characterization,” Child said of some contemporary black stories. “But the next guy is a divorced alcoholic. Then a divorced alcoholic whose teenage daughter hates him. Then a divorced alcoholic whose teenage daughter hates him, and he accidentally shot a kid in the dark, so he has to go live in a cabin in the woods for the rest of his life.

“So I deliberately made Reacher a much more old-fashioned guy. I wanted to get rid of misery because, ultimately, nobody likes miserable people.

Looking back, Child also seemed to anticipate a renewed desire to shed some of the unnecessary baggage of modern life, which may also help explain why many women are drawn to books.

“The character is a perfect female fantasy,” Jenny M. Davidson, professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Reach super fan, wrote in an email. “The man we want to be with, of course, but also the man we want to be – someone without domestic ties, without the burdens of emotional labor, without the vulnerability that we all really have in our ordinary day – life today.

And now the TV series brings it to life as a wish-granting action piece.

“He just travels; he sees things he wants to see; he eats the food he wants to eat,” Santora said. “He talks to people he wants to talk to and ignores people he has no interest in talking to. He’s kind of living everyone’s dream life!



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