Jack Reacher by: Alan Kimball

Posted: December 21, 2012 by jperritt in Uncategorized

jack reacher      JACK REACHER:  What is in a Character?
By Alan Kimball

At first glance, the movie trailer of JACK REACHER looks like a typical Hollywood-action-blockbuster  packed with fight scenes.  However, the unique framework of the movie itself lies in understanding the motivations of the title character (Tom Cruise). The character of Reacher himself is fascinating,  given the fact that he is possibly the most unique character ever to hit the book shelves or the silver screen.

The movie, JR is based on the novel One Shot, which is part of a book series by British writer Lee Child. The first book in the Reacher series debuted in 1997 entitled Killing Floor and was released to wide acclaim and popularity mostly due to its main character and its first person narrative of the book.

The plot of the book One Shot (Book Number 9 in series order) concerns the story of a former marine sniper who is accused of murdering five random strangers  using a rifle one calm evening during rush hour in a crowded shopping plaza.  The police find a man by the name of James Barr (Joseph Sikora) who did a similar crime a decade before and take him to police headquarters. He is asked the ultimate question:  Why did you do this?

Instead of answering the question directly, the man says he was framed by someone for the brutal crime. Then Barr does the unexpected: He demands the services of the only person who can help him prove his innocence, the mysterious Jack Reacher (Cruise).

With the movie coming up, the question for discussion is:

Who is Jack Reacher?

Lee Child’s version of the character is of a wanderer – rarely staying in one place.  He has no money, no wallet and no social security card. He only pays with cash leaving no trace for someone who wants to find him.  His height is 6”5 and he weighs roughly 200 pounds, built like a linebacker. The only possession he owns is a toothbrush. However, he is not your typical loner, in a previous life he was a MP (Military Policeman) who earned both the Silver Star and Purple Heart for being wounded in the line of duty.  For him, violence is the last resort and often treats people with respect, calling them sir or ma’am. He is a man of many skills including a variety of fighting arts. He dislikes knifes and prefers hand to hand combat when challenged to fight.

Throughout the book series, Reacher is a very positive guy who often shrugs when asked about his military background or his life. He offers no excuses or complains. Jack Reacher accepts his life as what it is, not what it should be.  I’m reminded of Romans 8: 28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I also am reminded of a wrathful God. (Psalm 7:11) Reacher in a way serves as a judge to rid the streets of crime by any means necessary.  When people see Barr as a weakling and close in on him, the 6”5 Reacher appears and tries to save him from seemingly impossible odds. (Luke 18:26-27)

Reacher has a cool backstory and a lot of mystery to him. For example, in the books you learn why he was let go by the military.  As far as the Reacher books go, I recommend One Shot or Killing Floor (Number 1 in the series) for first time readers. You don’t have to read the novels to know the character but I strongly suggest you do because the books can answer questions you might have about him.

The only concern I have about the movie is that people might get the impression from the movie posters and trailers that Reacher is a pleasure-seeking killer.  He does kill, but he is not a cold-blooded murderer. My point is, that he only kills when necessary and he dislikes doing  – a testament to his strong morals and sense of right and wrong.

As we wrap up, let me go back to our original question, the title of the article.

Jack Reacher is the right guy to have in your corner. He is a good solid guy with moral clarity who tries to do what is right in every situation.  Without question, he helps others in need. If Jack is your friend, be thankful, if he is your enemy then hide because it may be your last day on earth.

In conclusion,


Alan Kimball is a former resident of Madison MS; He graduated from T.C Robinson High School in Asheville NC and attended college at College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.  In his spare time, he is an avid reader of books, watches movies and plays video games when he is not in class. His favorite movie is Dial M For Murder.


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