It’s an age-old complaint of readers that movies rarely live up to the books that inspired them. The recent outcry online when they cast Katherine Heigl as Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum is a case in point. It’s nearly impossible to please thousands of readers with solid visual images formed through years of familiarity with their beloved characters.
I’m having a Stephanie Plum moment myself. Because they’re *finally* bringing Jack Reacher to the big screen.
For those of you unfamiliar with Reacher, thriller writer Lee Child’s recurring character, let me explain. He’s an ex-military cop, with a sort of emotional detachment that began in childhood. He’s the ultimate lone wolf, who shuns possessions and the trappings of the modern world. Jack Reacher is a drifter, moving from town to town finding jobs that will pay him enough to buy the little he needs in this world. And wherever he travels, trouble has a habit of finding him. Reacher has a hard time walking away from trouble. Before he leaves towns, things blow up, bad people die and the downtrodden are given back their dignity. He’s the righter of wrongs, the vindicator of the powerless, bigger than life.
In addition to his intriguing personality, Reacher himself is a physically powerful man. He’s 6’5″, broad and strong, and draws the eye wherever he goes. A stranger immediately knows he’s a man to be trusted, one who can do the impossible. His physical stature reflects his inner fortitude. So who did Hollywood get to play the indomitable Reacher?
I’m still not quite over my ‘are-you-freaking-kidding-me’ response to that bit of news. Not only is Cruise not physically dominating at a full foot shorter than the character he’s playing; he doesn’t exactly reek of inner fortitude. I’ve never gotten over his crazed couch jumping on Oprah. Not to mention his spouting off about Brooke Shield’s postpartum depression. Add a steady dose of news about his heavy handedness in his marriage and you have the reason I’ve steered clear of Cruise movies for the last few years.
Cruise can never do justice to my beloved Reacher.
Which leaves me with an unenviable decision: hold fast to the purity of my Reacher vision by avoiding the movie or hold my nose and watch it, trying to squelch snarky comments all the while.
I’ll probably see the movie. I won’t be able to help myself. After all, the story line originated with Lee Child, the master of suspense. I’ll be bemoaning all the while how Cruise has ruined it. And then I’ll rush home and re-read all my Child books to shake the tainted image from my head.
Have you ever seen a movie that did justice to a favorite book? Or winced through one that failed to do justice to a much loved story or character?