In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal there was a story about the upcoming Jack Reacher movie One Shot. I love Lee Child’s books. I was a latecomer to reading the series but once I started, I fell hard. The books are ferociously entertaining and the later installments in the series are superbly written. I am always interested in following the process of books being made into movies (its like watching sausage being made) and there has been a considerable amount of consternation over the casting of Tom Cruise to play the 6 feet 5 inches 250 pounds Jack Reacher. It is hard to imagine two more dissimilar figures, Reacher and Cruise, and the Journal reports that once Child even cracked that Cruise would be the worst choice for the part. Given that Tom Cruise is only 5’8” his choice to play the part seems somewhat of a stretch. The physicality of the role is such that it is hard to imagine a normal guy playing such a giant. I know it is a movie and it is made up and that great acting can bring about miraculous transformations and special effects and clever camera angles can mask other shortcomings, but still. Apparently, Lee Child is happy with the results even though he once told the Birmingham Post that Cruise was too short to play the part. At least that is what he tells the Wall Street Journal.
On a related note, I got the complete box set DVD edition of The Shield for Christmas. I was a latecomer to The Shield, as well. One Christmas Eve several years ago, we were at my sister’s house for dinner and presents and my brother-in-law had a DVD of The Shield playing on his Reacheresque widescreen TV. If you’ve never seen the show before, it is very gritty, violent and loud. While we were opening presents, we had to watch this episode about enslaved Asian teen prostitutes. (Or something like that - I was trying hard to block it out and have yet to see the offending episode on DVD.) It was the most un-Christmas thing imaginable. And that experience soured me on The Shield, which I had never seen before, for a long time. The show would not go away and I kept hearing about how good it was from sources I usually trust and value for entertainment recommendations. (Like in Sylvia Nasr’s book A Beuatiful Mind about the mentally-ill mathmatician John Nash –played so memorably in the movie by Russell Crowe – who, incidentally, Lee Child fancied for the role of Reacher – when he was asked why he listened to the crazy things the voices in his head were telling him said that those were the same voices who gave him his insights into mathamatics. So I decided to listen and give The Shield another try.) The second time around, my wife and I enjoyed the show. But we had this problem where she kept falling asleep during each episode and she fell behind in our viewing and then we would have to return the DVDs and we petered out somewhere in season four. Now we own the complete series and are re-watching season three. And after watching all these episodes, I realized that I look a lot like Vic Mackey. Or if Vic Mackey had a brother who was a real-bad ass librarian with glasses instead of a dirty cop, that would be me. (Or I look way more like Vic Mackey than Tom Cruise does Jack Reacher.) In Richard Stark's Parker novels, I have no problem enjoying the exploits of a career criminal. Same goes for watching the Sopranos. But I still feel conflicted about watching and liking Vic Mackey on the Shield. He does do good but at times he's done what should be unforgivable things. I suppose the show is meant to be a searing indictment on how everything has been corrupted but Vic kills a fellow cop in the pilot episode and yet we keep watching.
Update: I started this post about a week ago and since then, the Wall Street Journal has had another good story on books being filmed - this time on Elmore Leonard and Justified. Leonard really likes the TV adaptation of his Raylan Givens stories. It is nice to hear a writer who's happy with what has been done to his work. (Though Leonard is not happy with the hat Givens wears on screen.) Season three of Justified starts on Tuesday and I keep hearing good things about this show. First from here (several good posts here) and I heard this review today. I really need to catch up with this show.