Book and movie combine to create more complete Jack Reacher story

(Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures) (Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

If there's one thing every person should realize when watching an adaptation, it's that "the book is better than the movie." This is always true. Always. When a movie is based on a book, it is just a visual incarnation of an established story. Movies are also limited in the content that they can show in a set amount of time, which compromises details from the story. That being said, the movie "Jack Reacher" does a pretty good job of bringing one of my personal favorite action heroes to the big screen.

The movie "Jack Reacher" is based on the novel "One Shot" by Lee Child. This novel is one of many in Child's series featuring Reacher as the main protagonist. I have seen the movie multiple times since it came out, and I have always liked it, but recently I found myself prompted to read the book for the first time.

If I had one piece of advice for people It would be to read the book first. The book is phenomenal, and the movie is a great supplement to it. I wish I had read the book before seeing the movie, because I would have enjoyed both of them so much more.

(Photo Courtesy of Dell Publishing) (Photo Courtesy of Dell Publishing)

I have read at least 10 of Lee Child's other Jack Reacher books. They're all good, but some of them are excellent. After reading "One Shot," it was clear that this novel was in the latter category. I understand, now, why they chose to adapt this book into a movie — it has one of the best narratives of any Jack Reacher book I've read.

It was hard to judge the book accurately, because I knew a lot of the main plot points from seeing the movie. "One Shot" was still definitely worth the read, though. There are some notable differences between the book and the film: Characters were missing from the movie, and the book is set in the heartland of Indiana, whereas the film took place in the city of Pittsburgh. Other than that, the main ideas of the story remained the same.

I thought the movie did a good job of delivering a streamlined version of the story that still encompassed all the integral plot points. Overall, there were very few issues I had with the movie. The only things I was not entirely comfortable with were the way some of the characters didn't match their descriptions in the book, and how some of the modified lines Reacher spouted didn't sound entirely like something his character would say.

If you are familiar with the book series, you would know that Jack Reacher is described as a rugged, 6-foot-4 man with dirty blond hair and blue eyes. This is why Tom Cruise being selected as Reacher was a surprise to me. He is far too short and doesn't have the right hair or eye colors.

When I re-watched the movie after reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Tom Cruise embodied the characteristics of Reacher, despite his lack of physical resemblance to the character. I'm OK with him playing Reacher because Tom Cruise was one of the people who was responsible for the creation of the movie in the first place, so if he hadn't played Jack Reacher there probably wouldn't have been a movie at all.

Even though the book and movie each have a leg to stand on, watching the movie in tandem with the reading the book is a far more satisfying way experience what may be Lee Child's greatest Jack Reacher story.


Reach the reporter at or follow him on Twitter @wjschliesmann.

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