I know Jack about tough guys.
Seriously, I do.
I faithfully watched “24,” battling the global bad guys with Jack Bauer as the clock ticked.
I first read the Tom Clancy books, then watched the movies featuring Jack Ryan. I have picked up the Amazon Prime series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” based on the author’s characters. It’s pretty good, going back to his days as a CIA analyst.
Formerly in the Marines, Ryan proves that sometimes, the sword has to be mightier than the pen.
Now, there’s “Reacher.”
The sister of my brother-in-law introduced me to author Lee Child years ago. I have to say that when I read the book she gave me, I think as a Christmas gift, I was surprised. I did not match her with the thriller series.
But she lives in Houston, and I met her once, maybe twice, in person. She may be a spy or government operative herself, for all I know. She maybe a Democrat.
Child has said he is surprised by how many women enjoy Reacher stories.
And, of course, guys who are Reacher. Until they have to mow the lawn, feed the dog or go to their daughter’s ballet performance.
But ask them to loosen the lid on a jar, and they do it. Full. Force.
I got hooked on Reacher.
She gave me No. 9 in the series, “One Shot.” Relying on our library and what I could “borrow” on audiobooks, I have not read the series nearly in order.
Minus a few details, you don’t really need to. Reacher doesn’t age or change. He’s not getting married anytime soon.
Some stories have been prequels, some short stories.
He moves around the country, hitching a ride or taking the bus.
He’s his own man, and now he has his own series.
A bit about Reacher
It’s called “Reacher.” That’s what he goes by. reacher.
His mother, he tells others, called him Reacher.
If you really don’t know jack about Jack, here’s some background.
His father was in the Marine Corps, his mother was French and his brother, Joe, works for the government.
Jack served in the Army, in the military police. He retired as a major and, after a lifetime of following orders, he ventured out on his own. He travels light — the clothes he is wearing, some cash in his pocket and one of those folding toothbrushes. He keeps his passport handy.
He is, after all, a stranger in a strange land – the one he defended in the Army.
He is so economical that he sleeps on his clothes, bought cheaply, to “iron” out the wrinkles.
He is smart. Much smarter than his adversaries of him. The bad guys realized they underestimated him as they waited in the emergency room.
He always has the upper hand. You just don’t get the drop on Reacher. It’s him who’s dropping you.
Jack Bauer and Jack Ryan take their lumps. But Reacher deals out the lump.
It didn’t take long to form a picture of Reacher in my mind.
He’s about 6-foot-5 and a brawler. He is ruggedly handsome and, as a drifter, mysterious. Women seem to like that. They are attracted to him, and to his scars and bullet holes from him. He is respectful to women, and never underestimates them.
But they’re gone by the next book, when he shows up somewhere else in the US
He loves his coffee, black. He eats in diners. He doesn’t cuss much (in the books) and enjoys a beer, not a shaken martini. And he loves the blues.
So when they made a movie in 2012 based on “One Shot” but called “Jack Reacher,” casting Tom Cruise as Reacher, I said something.
You have to know the joke.
Reacher said nothing.
When Reacher is plotting or has nothing to add to a stupid one-sided conversation, Child writes that line. It appears in all the Reacher books, and often.
“You’re going to pay for drifting into our operation, Reacher,” Smirmoff said.
Reacher said nothing.
Reacher indeed speaks softly, if at all, and carries a big stick. Oh rifle. Or, because it’s convenient, to fist the size of Putin’s ego.
I joined the protest over Cruise playing Reacher. I am a good 3 inches taller than Cruise, for starters. And Reacher is not the acrobatic Ethan Hunt.
Still, Cruise sells tickets and the movie wasn’t so bad. So they did another, “Never Go Back” in 2017, based on another Reacher novel.
There hasn’t been one since. Maybe this Tom Cruise franchise was an impossible mission.
But now there is a series on Amazon Prime, and I have started it.
The storyline is based on the first book of about 30 in the series, “Killing Floor,” which lands Reacher to Georgia. His brother factors into the story. But if they ask me if I gave anything away, I said nothing.
Alan Ritchson is Reacher. He’s 6-2 and 37, so we’re getting there.
He’s the product of the gym, sculpted buff. Reacher is a freak of nature.
Immediately, he is seen without a shirt, and a female sheriff’s deputy that he teams with can’t keep her eyes off his pecs, abs and biceps. But actor Willa Fitzgerald puts you-go-girl into the role. She looks but hasn’t yet touched, and she doesn’t put up with BS. Even from Reacher.
I’ve watched only three episodes.
The series was shot in Canada, which looks surprisingly like Georgia. The story begins with Reacher getting off a bus (it’s raining, like in the book) and walking to town. That he will do.
There is humor mixed with mayhem. No one seems able to decide what to do with Reacher, other than to get on his good side from him. Or run. That sometimes is funny.
Ritchson plays Reacher as someone who has to be provoked. He’s not seeking trouble but he knows what to do when he finds it. That can get him in a jam, like it did during his Army days.
The genre I like
I recently listened to my first “Longmire” story on audiobook. Author Craig Johnson I think he is a very good writer. Child is more terse and functional. Like Reacher.
I listened to five more Longmire stories in succession, trying this time to keep the series in order.
I am anxious to watch the “Longmore” series, to see how my sheriff and his sidekick, Henry Standing Bear, are portrayed. HSB is like Hawk, in the “Spenser” books. He’s more the hero and lady’s man.
And so, finally thought.
Books are still the best. You create the main character’s world based on your imagination. It’s why few Stephen King movies are great—someone else’s vision rarely matches your own. “Shawshank Redemption” with standing.
I remember the woman who got me to read a Clive Cussler novel. She loved Dirk Pitt, and admitted it was a guilty pleasure. I have checked all the boxes with women.
Guys like the books, too, because, like Reacher, Pitt gets the job done. And in cool places all over the world.
Reacher has busted lips from South Dakota to Key West.
One Reacher book, “Echo Burning,” is set in far West Texas. I think it mentions Abilene.
Wow, Reacher in Abilene.
“Why are you looking at our streets, Major Reacher?” the councilman asked, taking a step backwards without realizing it. Now at the edge of a massive pothole.
Reacher said nothing.
Greg Jaklewicz is editor of the Abilene Reporter-News and general columnist. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
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