Jack Reacher, as played by Tom Cruise, appearing in the theatrical poster of the 2012 film Jack Reacher
|First appearance||Killing Floor (novel) (1997)|
Jack Reacher (film) (2012)
|Created by||Lee Child|
|Portrayed by||Tom Cruise|
Jack Reacher is a fictional character and the protagonist of a series of crime thriller novels by British author Lee Child. After leaving the US Army as a major in its military police at age 36, Reacher roams the United States taking odd jobs and investigating suspicious and frequently dangerous situations. As of 5 November 2018 , 23 novels have been published, the most recent being Past Tense. The character has also appeared in short stories, and two of the novels have been adapted into successful films, starring Tom Cruise as Reacher.
At the time Lee Child sat down to write his first novel Killing Floor, he was unemployed, having been fired from his position as a presentation director for Granada Television. According to Child, authorship was a purely pragmatic decision: "I wasn't one of these people that felt compelled to write. It had to keep a roof over our heads, so it was totally, totally 110% commercially motivated."
Critics have perceived other influences in Jack Reacher's creation. Bob Cornwell quotes Lee Child's reply in another interview as having created Reacher "as an antidote, to all the depressed and miserable alcoholics that increasingly peopled the genre". Similarly, editor Otto Penzler published an essay by Child explaining that Jack Reacher was created deliberately in contrast to the prevailing trends in crime fiction. His name is short and commonplace, as opposed to quirky or unusual; Reacher's personal ethics and wandering lifestyle are reminiscent of the chivalrous knight errant of medieval lore as opposed to an anti-hero tormented by addiction and haunted by past misbehavior.
The character's name first came to Child in a supermarket when an old lady, noting the span of Child's arms, asked for his help in reaching out to a can of pears. On seeing this, Child's wife commented that if his writing career did not work out he could "always get a job as a reacher in a supermarket". Reacher's ex-military background was a specific and tactical choice on his behalf. Child has explained, "I thought that I would do a book that's not the same as everybody else's. Everybody else had their guy working: a private guy in Boston or a police lieutenant in L.A., or wherever. I thought, 'Well, he won't be working, and he won't live anywhere, and let's just take it from there.'" Child also felt that this origin would lend itself to the character's personality and nomadic lifestyle: "This idea of the rootless alienation has got to come from somewhere, and I noticed that the most alienated people are always ex-military, because it's like going from one solar system to the other, it's so different. So that was an easy choice: Make him ex-military. Then make him ex-military police because, broadly speaking, these would be crime novels, and he had to have some investigative experience, and he had to understand procedures and forensics and so on. So that part was all set in stone".
Numerous critics have pointed out the various similarities between Lee Child and Jack Reacher. Bryan Curtis, writing for Grantland, and Natasha Harding and Caroline Iggulden, in a separate article for The Sun, have brought out the various similarities between Child and Reacher: Child is 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) tall while his protagonist stands 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m); both writer and creation constantly consume coffee; Like Reacher, Child "lives in cheap pairs of jeans and T-shirts and finds the idea of buying expensive clothes to be irrational"; and that "Jack Reacher's famous physical qualities are based on Child's playground memories as a child". Child tends to agree with such observations: "I was huge as a kid and Reacher's stature is me translated as a kid. I enjoyed being bigger and fighting shamelessly. I've done a fair amount of headbutting. It's an awesome manoeuvre."[note 1] Andy Martin notes that "just as Reacher is half-Rimbaud, half-Rambo, Child is both art-for-art's-sake Parnassian and ruthless businessman."
Curtis, as well as Harding and Iggulden, have also considered the role Child's dismissal from Granada had on Reacher's development. Harding and Iggulden note that as "A union rep who hated injustice, Lee poured his anger at his sacking into the character...who always wins against the bad guys." Curtis also notes that "Child created Reacher from the smoldering embers of his own rage. It might seem like a simplistic theory, but it's true. Like the author, Reacher was workplace surplus: He was a military policeman in an era of Army downsizing. The act of leaving his job turned Reacher into a protective figure, an avenging angel." He finds that Reacher's actions are a manifestation of Child's anger at his sacking and that his violent ways of dealing with villains is 'cathartic' to the author.
Lee Child views Jack Reacher as a "happy-go-lucky guy. He has quirks and problems, but the thing is, he doesn't know he's got them. Hence, no tedious self-pity. He's smart and strong, an introvert, but any anguish he suffers is caused by others." When asked about the casting of Tom Cruise in the role of Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise's casting as Jack Reacher was met with severe criticism from fans of the book series, primarily because the disparity in their heights with Reacher portrayed as a blond, 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) tall, 250-pound man in the novels, while Cruise is a 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) tall brunette), Child replied that "Reacher's size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force". Physically and appearance wise, Child has compared him to Rugby Player Lawrence Dallaglio.
He has also referred to Reacher on multiple occasions as a 'knight-errant' and in an interview for the Time magazine describes the character as: " (He's) two things in one. On the surface, he is an ex-military cop who is suddenly dumped out into the civilian world. He doesn't fit in, and he spends his time wandering America, seeing the things that he's never had time to see before. He's trying to stay out of trouble, but masterfully once a year getting into trouble. He's also the descendant of a very ancient tradition: the noble loner, the knight errant, the mysterious stranger, who has shown up in stories forever... He is a truly universal character... I'm writing the modern iteration of a character who has existed for thousands of years."
In another interview for Esquire magazine, Child further analyses the mythology of his character:
The stories that I love are basically about the knight-errant, the mysterious stranger. And the reason why people think that's an essentially American paradigm is the Westerns. The Westerns were absolutely rock solid with that stuff. You know, the mysterious rider comes in off the range, sorts out the problem, and rides off into the sunset. It is just such a total paradigm, but not invented in America. That was imported from the medieval tales of Europe. The knight-errant: literally a knight, somehow banished and forced to wander the land doing good deeds. It's part of storytelling in every culture. Japan has it with the ronin myth; every culture has this Robin Hood idea. So really, that character was forced out of Europe as Europe became more densely populated and more civilized. That character no longer had stories in Europe; it had to migrate to where the frontier was still open and dangerous, which was America, essentially. So the character, I think, is actually universal and historic, most recently, normally represented in America. I think the Westerns saw it firmly adopted by America, so yeah, right now, we think of this as a completely American character, but really, it's more historic than that. But I'm very happy to have that reference made.
Child also views Reacher as "post-feminist" stating that he does not parlay in "gender distinction...Reacher likes strong, realistic women, and he treats women with respect...he doesn't cut them any slack, but also he has no negative preconceptions. If you're a woman, he will be your friend; but if necessary, he will kill you."
Jack Reacher is described as being a former major in the United States Military Police Corps.
Jack Reacher was born on a military base in Berlin, on 29 October 1960. He has no middle name, and most people simply call him 'Reacher', even his family as a child. Regular references are made to the fact that Reacher's given name is Jack, which is not a nickname for John, and that he has no middle name. His military record officially refers to him as Jack (none) Reacher. From the time he was a boy, his family, even his mother, simply called him "Reacher", an appellation that has stayed with him, but was never given to his brother.
Reacher's mother Josephine Moutier Reacher (née Moutier) was a French national, and Reacher was fluent in French from early childhood, but as he admits in The Affair (2011) he speaks the language Un peu, mais lentement ("A little, but slowly").
After being shunted around the world, growing up on U.S. military bases where his father Stan was stationed, he gained an education in basic survival as well as an opportunity to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point. After four years at West Point (1979 to 1983) Reacher achieved the ranks of 2nd lieutenant, 1st lieutenant, captain, and major, including an intervening demotion from major to captain in 1990 during his tenure in the military police. His commanding officer, Leon Garber, promoted Reacher twice in 18 months, making him the youngest peacetime major anyone could remember. During his tenure, his achievements were recognised in the form of citations and awards including the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Soldier's Medal, Army Commendation Medal,Bronze Star, and a second Silver Star and Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983.
While his Silver Star and Purple Heart are cited on his profile, all of the other medal citations involve official secrets and are therefore redacted. The short story Deep Down hints that he possibly was awarded the Legion of Merit as a result of exposing a female liaison officer who was leaking confidential information to the Soviet Union.
Reacher served in the army's military police branch, resigning his commission and mustering out at the rank of major. His unit, the fictional 110th Special Investigations Unit, was formed to handle exceptionally tough cases. He left the armed forces in 1997, partly due to a reduction in the forces and partly because he verbally offended a lieutenant colonel during an investigation in Mississippi, who then singled him out for discharge.
Among his formal qualifications, Reacher is described as the only non-Marine to win the Wimbledon Cup, a US Marine Corps 1000 Yard Invitational Rifle Competition; achieving a record score in 1988. Anecdotally his fitness reports rated him well above average in the classroom, excellent in the field, fluently bilingual in English and French, passable in Spanish, outstanding on all man-portable weaponry, and beyond outstanding at hand-to-hand combat.
After leaving the Army, Reacher became a drifter, his only baggage a folding toothbrush, although after the September 11 attacks, with restrictions on wire transfers in the light of fraud he is obliged to carry an ATM card and photo ID in the form of a (generally expired) American passport.
Emily Sargent, while conducting an interview with Lee Child, describes Reacher's post-military life as follows:
You will never find Reacher going to the laundry or doing the ironing. When his clothes get dirty he simply goes to the local hardware store and buys a functional pair of chinos and a workman's shirt and stuffs the old ones in the bin. No mortgage, no wife, no ties, he is a perfectly free agent, unlimited and unbound, incapable of ever settling down.
Lee Child describes Reacher's obsession to wander about:
He's an ex-military policeman, and he was demobilized in his middle thirties after having served all of his adult life in the [U.S.] Army and having grown up on Marine bases, because his father was a Marine. The idea was to have a character that was plausibly rootless. Most people who are wanderers do it for other reasons--they are mentally ill, or something like that. Reacher is completely competent, but he's just habituated to this fragmented life in the military, so he can't settle into civilian society. The idea of staying anywhere for more than a few days is anathema to him.
Reacher himself expounds on a hypothesis about this vagrant life-style in Never Go Back. He states that he has a genetic disposition towards roaming about, citing the British Empire, the Vikings, and the Polynesians as groups with a similar wanderlust. While he accepts that there was an economical necessity behind their voyages, he maintains that "some of them could not stop". He feels that long ago when humans lived in small bands, there was a risk of inbreeding as a result of which a gene developed over the course of evolution such that "every generation and every small band had at least one person who had to wander". This would lead to "mixing up of gene pools" and would be "healthier all around". Reacher concludes:
I think ninety-nine of us grow up to love the campfire, and one grows up to hate it. Ninety-nine of us grow up to fear the howling wolf, and one grows up to envy it. And I'm that guy.
Reacher's large physique means his character is sometimes mistaken by other people. For example, in Die Trying, Reacher is wrongly suspected by the FBI of being involved in a kidnapping, which assesses him (solely on the basis of a few photos) as such: "The big guy is different. Different clothes, different stance, different physically. He could be foreign, at least partly, or maybe second generation. Fair hair and blue eyes, but there's something in his face. Maybe he's European, perhaps a European mercenary or terrorist." Reacher is aware of this perception. In Make Me Reacher gets off a train in a remote town called Mother's Rest, simply because he likes the name of the town. When he sees a woman approaching him with a look of expectation, he immediately understands that the person she was waiting for must be very tall like him, as it is his standout feature when people first meet him.
In Echo Burning, Reacher narrates how he first turned "his fear into aggression". He was about four when he watched a television show on space adventures. One episode depicted a space monster which then terrified the young Reacher. He was unable to sleep for days, thinking the monster was under his bed and would get him if he tried to sleep. According to Reacher, he then became angry: "Not at myself for being afraid, because as far as I was concerned the thing was totally real and I should be afraid. I got mad at the thing for making me afraid. For threatening me". Reacher then one night "kind of exploded with fury". In his words, Reacher "raced down the monster" and successfully changed his fear into fury. He also stated he has never been scared since.
This fact is later referenced in Never Go Back, when an Army psychological study of fear in children is cited that shows Reacher to have abnormally fast reflexes and aggression levels at the age of six; Reacher believes that this abnormal level of aggression at that age is not due to genetics, as the Army report suggested, but because he got tired of being frightened, and trained himself "to turn fear into aggression, automatically".
Reacher seldom shows remorse for the numerous felonies he perpetrates and has a primal sense of justice. In Personal, after killing a thug, he defends his actions to his distraught accomplice, Casey Nice, by stating the man could have spent his life performing good deeds such as "helping old ladies across the street", "raising funds for Africa" or "volunteering in the library". Instead the man extorted money and hurt people and when he "finally he opened the wrong door, what came out at him was his problem, not mine".
This primitivity on part of Reacher is commented upon in Never Go Back, in which Reacher is described by Susan Turner as being like "something feral....It's like you've been sanded down to nothing but yes and no, and you and them, and black and white, and live or die. You're like a predator. Cold and hard." (p. 176-177) However, when she witnesses Reacher's outrage at the hurt inflicted upon an innocent waitress, she reconsiders and states that he is actually not feral as she had earlier presumed. Furthermore, she notes that Reacher had until then attempted to solve only her problems, neglecting the problems of his own:
And you've done nothing but chip away at my problem. You're ignoring your own, with the Big Dog. Which is just as serious. Therefore, you still care for others. Which means you can't really be feral. I imagine caring for others is the first thing to go. And you still know right from wrong. Which all means you're OK.
This underlying kindness perceived by Turner is visible in many of Reacher's actions: he stands up for the right of women in both Echo Burning, whose central plot involves him aiding a woman's escape from her abusive husband, and in Worth Dying For, in which he breaks the nose of an abusive husband for beating up his wife. He is also shown to be sympathetic to those in need, as seen in The Hard Way where he bequeaths Edward Lane's fees paid to him for the medical treatment and living expenses of a man whom Lane had betrayed many years back.
This point is further elucidated in Personal, when Reacher reminisces while standing at his mother's grave:
She had said, 'You've got the strength of two normal boys. What are you going to do with it?' I hadn't replied. Our silence was part of the ritual. She answered for me. She said, 'You're going to do the right thing.' And I had tried, mostly, which had sometimes caused me trouble, and sometimes won me medals of my own.
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In Bad Luck and Trouble, Reacher displays a facility with numbers that he uses to deduce that the amount of money deposited without his knowledge into his bank account was an attempt by Neagley, his colleague from the Military Police Corps, to contact him.
Reacher has a love for music, especially blues. It was this affinity that inspires Reacher to get off the bus at the start of Killing Floor, and in the same novel reveals that he has a music collection in his head, replaying tracks as he travels without needing the technology others seem to be obsessed with and burdened by. Reacher explains this to detectives investigating an early morning suicide on a near-deserted New York subway near a visit to a blues club on Bleecker Street.
Reacher espouses no personal religious beliefs but is scathing in his dismissal of town boss Thurman's fundamentalist Christian position in the novel Nothing to Lose: When asked if he is "born again" Reacher says, "Once was enough for me" and later rhetorically asks Thurman, "I'm here to visit the sick and you want to have me beaten up? What kind of Christian are you?" He also mentions at the opening of Bad Luck and Trouble that he avoids Alaska Airlines because "they put a scripture card on the meal trays".
Reacher is also critical of the corruption of traditional spelling, such as the use of contractions like "U" for "you", "lo" for "low", disliking the absence of the apostrophe in DONT WALK pedestrian signage before they were replaced, then noting he also disapproved of replacing words with pictures.
While Reacher knows how to drive, in A Wanted Man he professes to be a bad driver, and in Bad Luck and Trouble he says he cannot rent a car because he does not have a driver's license. In Without Fail Agent Frolich trawls various databases for Reacher, only to discover he is effectively untraceable, because without a driver's license he has no photograph and no address.
Bryan Curtis, in an interview with Lee Child, describes Reacher thus:
His face looked like it had been chipped out of rock by a sculptor who had ability but not much time.
From A Wanted Man: "He was one of the largest men she had ever seen outside the NFL. He was extremely tall, and extremely broad, and long-armed, and long-legged. The lawn chair was regular size, but it looked tiny under him. It was bent and crushed out of shape. His knuckles were nearly touching the ground. His neck was thick and his hands were the size of dinner plates...A wild man. But not really. Underneath everything else seemed strangely civilized....His gaze was both wise and appealing, both friendly and bleak, both frank and utterly cynical."
Reacher is described as being 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) tall, weighing 210-250 pounds (95-113 kg) and having a 50-inch (130 cm) chest. In Never Go Back, he is described as having "a six-pack like a cobbled city street, a chest like a suit of NFL armor, biceps like basketballs, and subcutaneous fat like a Kleenex tissue." In his youth, his physical appearance likened to that of a 'bulked-up greyhound'. He also reveals that his size is purely genetic; he states in Persuader and Never Go Back that he is not much of an exercise enthusiast.
He has various scars, most notably a collection of roughly stitched scars on his abdomen caused by a bombing in Lebanon, with ugly raised welts that are later instrumental in saving his life, a 3-to-4-inch-wide (8 to 10 cm) white scar that intersects his shrapnel scar that he received during a knife fight in Gone Tomorrow. Reacher attributes his survival to the rough MASH stitch work.
His various other scars include one from a chest shot with a .38 Special. and a powder burn from a near-miss at point blank range, and one on his arm where his brother struck him with a chisel.
He suffers his first ever broken nose in Worth Dying For, at over 50 years of age. He resets the bone with a thump from his palm and later puts on a plaster bandage made of duct tape.
Reacher's maternal grandfather, Laurent Moutier, was a furniture restorer in Paris, who, at age 30, volunteered for the French Army in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, fighting at Verdun and The Somme.[note 2] Between 1919 and 1929 he was commissioned to produce wooden legs for wounded veterans. Josephine Moutier was his only child. He died in 1974 at age 90. Jack, as a boy, met him three times and is described as having liked him. In Second Son Reacher is impressed with his grandfather's stoic acceptance of approaching death and says that "A man who survived Verdun and The Somme as well as the WWII anti-Nazi Resistance has already beaten the odds".
Reacher's mother, Josephine Moutier Reacher, born in France, was 30 years old when Reacher was born. She met Reacher's father in Korea and married him in the Netherlands. When she was only 13, she joined the French Resistance and under the alias "Beatrice" worked with Le Chemin de Fer Humain (the Human Railroad), saving 80 men. She garroted a schoolmate, a boy who threatened to give her up to the Nazis, and would later receive the Médaille de la Résistance (the Resistance Medal) for further heroism. She was widowed in 1988,[note 3] and died in 1990 at the age of 60 of lung cancer. Reacher described his mother as "gallic, feminine, obstinate," and "[the] most stubborn woman possible." He also branded her a fatalist as she had concealed her cancer from her children and had refused treatment for a one-year period before her death. However Reacher compares her favourably to his father: "My father hadn't killed the enemy at the age of thirteen. But my mother had. She had lived through desperate times and she had stepped up and done what was necessary." Reacher also has great respect for his mother: at her funeral he buried his Silver Star medal with her, and on learning of her role in World War II, states that he became the man he was because of her. In Die Trying, when the FBI mistakenly assumes Reacher to be in league with the book's villains, the Bureau experts observing Reacher's demeanor on footage from a security camera consider him to be "a foreigner, probably a European mercenary".
Reacher's father, Stan Reacher, was a United States Marine Corps captain, who served in Korea and Vietnam. His military service kept his family continually moving all around the world to various military bases. At the time of the short story Second Son, when Jack was 13, he was stationed in Okinawa and involved in preparing contingency plans for an invasion of Mainland China. In the same short story, Stan Reacher is depicted as "a child of the depression," coming from a miserly New England family, and as a result was a proponent of the theories of "Waste not, want not," "Make do and mend," and "Don't make an exhibition of oneself." Jack described his father as "a plain New Hampshire Yankee with an implacable horror of anything fancy...he had no use for wealth and excess. Very compartmentalized guy. Gentle, shy, sweet, loving man, but a stone-cold killer. Next to him I look like Liberace". Jack Reacher furthermore highlighted this dichotomy in his father's behaviour by stating that he would be engaging in violent actions such as "how to angle a claymore mine so the little ball bearings explode outward at exactly the right angle to rip the enemy's spines out of their backs with maximum efficiency" one day, and the next day would be doing something calmer, like "watching birds," After military service, "there was no place left for people like him." He died in 1988. James Stanfield, in an article concludes that "Reacher clearly looked up to and idolised his father, and though Reacher's reasons for leaving the service were very different to his dad's, they've ended up at the same point."
Reacher had only one sibling, brother Joe Reacher, who was two years older than Jack. Physically, Joe was one inch taller 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) and a "little slighter" than his younger sibling, weighing 220 pounds (100 kg). Joe was born on a military base in the Philippines, and Jack is described as helping Joe beat up the kids who gave him trouble in school, and vice versa. However Joe also had scuffles with his own brother, given the scar that Jack had put on his forehead during their childhood. Joe was also a West Point graduate, and spent five years in military intelligence, where he never won any of the "good medals", only the "junk awards. "Jack described his brother as being pedantic, and called him a perfectionist, "a man horrified with anything less than the best." Joe is described as joining the US Treasury Department, and died at age 38 in the line of duty, having arranged a meeting with a potential investigation subject. Because he was killed in the line of duty, his name can be found on the Treasury Department's Roll of Honor.
Critics have noted the strong theme of "justice" pervading the character as well as the book series. Claire E. White, characterises the titular protagonist as: "wanderer, a hero who is a bit alienated from the establishment, but whose sense of justice is strong. He reminds (me) a bit of a character from the Old West: the strong, mysterious loner who never stays in town for long." Mike Ripley detected the influence of Jack Schaefer's western novel Shane in the Reacher novel Echo Burning while Bob Cornwell calls the debut Jack Reacher novel Killing Floor "a classic western".Grantland columnist Bryan Curtis calls the character "a protective figure, an avenging angel" and quotes the author Michael Connelly describing the Reacher book series as: "These are postmodern Westerns, they're Shane. A stranger comes to town and sets things right. Then he leaves town." The critic Emily Sargent says of the fictional Reacher: "just the kind of no-nonsense, ramrod hero an intelligent five-year old would dream up: a strapping, broad-shouldered, idealized father-figure, something akin to God in his wisdom and power, alternately benevolent and overwhelmingly cruel, fair but firm. Good at saving damsels in distress and sorting out bad guys."
Rick Gekoski, writing for The Guardian, takes a similar if darker interpretation of the character: "Reacher is, of course, in a long line of American outcast heroes who abjure emotional ties, head out into the wilderness and take upon their own broad shoulders the primitive moral conscience of the tribe. Too immature to make a sexual commitment, obsessed with death and terror, this archetypal hero of American fiction was first described in Leslie Fiedler's classic Love and Death in the American Novel (1960)." In the same article he also questions whether Fiedler would find that Reacher's hypermasculinity is a sign of the character's "repressed homosexuality".
Malcolm Gladwell, in an article for The New Yorker, perceives a difference in the Reacher character and the traditional Western characters in terms of the symbolism they represent to the general public. In his opinion "The traditional Western was a fantasy about lawfulness: it was based on a longing for order among those who had been living without it for too long. The heroes conduct themselves according to strict rules of chivalry. They act-- insofar as it is possible --with restraint. In the world we live in today, by contrast, we have too much order: we are, as we have been reminded so frequently lately, over-policed. Our contemporary fantasy is about lawlessness: about what would happen if the institutions of civility melted away and all we were left with was a hard-muscled, rangy guy who could do all the necessary calculations in his head to insure that the bad guy got what he had coming. That's why there are rarely any police in Reacher novels--or judges or courts or lawyers or any discussion or consideration of the law. Nor is there any restraint on the part of the hero. He's not pointing toward a more civilized tomorrow. He's leading us back into the wilderness, with the reassurance that our psychopaths are bigger and stronger than the bad guys' psychopaths."
Sargent also notes the dichotomy in Reacher's character, stating that he is intellectual and generous despite his exterior appearance of being "unkempt, unshaven and out of uniform, a loner, avenger, perpetual outsider at odds with the army". In Sargent's express opinion:
The thing about Reacher is that he is not just a thug, even if a well-meaning thug in the manner of, say, Rambo or Bruce Willis. He is also a thinker, an intellectual, capable of quoting Nietzsche or coming up with the etymology of "vagrant". And he speaks French....
...He therefore brings a certain amount of liberal-leaning finesse and élan to his encounters. He is sympathetic to deserters from the Iraq War and particularly severe on capitalist profiteers. You feel he would probably turn up at an Occupy Wall Street demo. There is something of the hippie in his rootless roaming around America, seeking out injustice and righting wrongs.
Curtis concurs, remarking that "Reacher isn't just a mindless vigilante. He can also be a liberal do-gooder. He has expressed sympathy for gays in the military and undocumented immigrants. In Child's latest book, A Wanted Man, Reacher worries that the Patriot Act will lead to all sorts of 'national security bullshit.' Child has invented a kind of progressive vigilantism. The scumbag is killed, but usually for the right reasons."
Others have been critical of the various implausibilities and contradictions present in the character and his behavior. Notes The Washington Post journalist Kevin Nance: "The unlikelihoods and outright impossibilities stack up. Ever a frugal sort, Reacher travels mostly by hitchhiking (as he does at the beginning of "A Wanted Man" and 2001's "Echo Burning," both set roughly in the time they were written), even though the practice is roughly as current as bellbottoms and even though his appearance is, as previously established, notably simian. (Not that this deters a series of smart, attractive young women, most of them officers of the law, from jumping into bed with him.) And although he's a loner who seems never so happy -- rather like Agent Cooper in "Twin Peaks" -- as when sitting quietly in a diner with a cup of black coffee and a piece of pie, he has an uncanny knack for stumbling into the worst kinds of trouble, almost none of it connected to himself." Michael Cavacini has concurred with this, stating that unlike traditional whodunits, where a detective "simply solves a problem because it's his job", Reacher has no formal reason to be involved in anything and consequently "seems to always wind up in a situation where something goes wrong and he must make right".
Lee Child has described Reacher's accomplices and their characterization and origin in the following terms: " The whole cast for each book is new. It kind of depends on what the scenario is and what the set up is. Do I use people that I actually know? In a way yeah, because you met people and you regard them as meta-typical as one thing or another - so as a large extent, yes, they are based on people I've met but not specific individuals."
Jill Hemingway, age 34 according to a police transmission, was a suspended FBI agent operating freelance in New York during 1977. She had been investigating the criminal activities of a New York mobster, Croselli but her investigation had been shut down and she had been suspended, pending review as part of a deal cut by Croselli with the FBI. She had since tried to unsuccessfully bring Croselli down by getting him to boast of his crimes on tape. She admitted that bringing down Croselli had become somewhat of an obsession for her, stating "[Croselli] burns her up." Hemingway is described as a thin, pale, nervous, blonde woman and she teams up with a nearly seventeen year old Reacher in the novella High Heat to incriminate Croselli. She suffered from heart-related ailments and she died near the end of the story due to a heart attack after having accomplished her goal. Reacher commented, "She died young, but she had a smile on her face."
The 2012 action thriller film, Jack Reacher was adapted from the 2005 novel One Shot and starred Tom Cruise in the title role. The film was directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Cruise reprised the role in the sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, an adaptation of the 18th Jack Reacher book Never Go Back, which was directed by Edward Zwick, and released 21 October 2016.
Tom Cruise's casting was met with criticism from fans of the book series, primarily because the disparity in their heights, with Reacher portrayed as a blond, 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) tall, 250-pound man in the novels, while Cruise is a 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) tall brunette) In 2012 Child commented on Cruise's casting by saying, "Reacher's size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way." In 2018, Child expressed the opinion that the fans were right after the height of actor portraying the character. (See In television section below.)
On November 14, 2018, Child announced that he made a deal with Skydance Television and Paramount Television to produce a Jack Reacher series based on Child's novels, during which feature films would no longer be produced. He also stated that Tom Cruise would not be returning to the role, and that another actor would be cast in the role, which he hoped would more properly represent the character than seen in the films. Paramount Television and Skydance Television are said to be produce the potential series. Child said of the recasting:
"I really enjoyed working with Cruise. He's a really, really nice guy. We had a lot of fun. But ultimately the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it's a big component of who he is...So what I've decided to do is - there won't be any more movies with Tom Cruise. Instead we're going to take it to Netflix or something like that. Long-form streaming television, with a completely new actor. We're rebooting and starting over and we're going to try and find the perfect guy.
On July 15, 2019, Varity report thst Amazon will develop the series for Amazon Prime with Nick Santora as the showrunner, writer and executive producer alongside with Child, Don Granger, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross
Reacher had been an army liaison officer serving with the Marine Corps at the time of the barracks bombing. He had been badly wounded in the attack....The wound had healed fast and completely. It had left what the army called a disfiguring scar, which implied a real mess.
One night I just kind of exploded with fury. I yelled O-K-, come out and try it! Just damn well try it! I'll beat the shit right out of you! I raced it down. I turned the fear into aggression.
Reacher hit him, a straight right to the nose, a big vicious blow, his knuckles driving through cartilage and bone and crushing it all flat.
I'm going to send Hobart down to Birmingham or Nashville and get him fixed up right. I'm going to buy him a lifetime's supply of spare parts and I'm going to rent him a place to live and I'm going to give him some walking-around money because my guess is he's not very employable right now. At least not in his old trade. And then if there's anything left, then sure, I'll buy myself a new shirt.
[Joe] was probably the only other human on the planet who liked coffee as much as I did. He started drinking it when he was six. I copied him immediately. I was four. Neither of us has stopped since. The Reacher brothers' need for caffeine makes heroin addiction look like an amusing little take-it-or-leave-it sideline.
I never work out.
He had served thirteen years in the Army, and the only time he was wounded it wasn't with a bullet. It was with a fragment of a Marine sergeant's jawbone.
She traced around his ear, and his neck, and his chest. She put the tip of her pinkie in his bullet hole. It fit just right. 'A .38,' he said.
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When Joseph Finder decided to try a series character, he took many cues from Lee Child's Jack Reacher