By Shaileen B
We don't want to hitch our dreams to the wrong man. That's why, for months now, America has been abuzz about a major decision. When one of us is summoned to embody an ancient vision for all of us, feelings run deep. The presidential elections? Heavens, no. I'm talking about the decision to cast Tom Cruise as the hero of the movie out December 21—Jack Reacher.
Everyone loves Reacher, the hero of Lee Child's bestselling suspense series—at least, everyone I know who knows Reacher loves him—and no wonder. A crushing righter of wrongs, Reacher is also a vulnerable loner, who happens upon people in trouble, helps them, and moves on. Attached to virtually nothing but his toothbrush and ex-military-cop pension, he drifts from state to state, a modern knight-errant. He speaks little. He cares for women deeply, but never settles. He fights on his own terms, on his own time, for his own beliefs. As a force for good who's cut off from official systems, he lets us imagine we can be powerful without ceasing to be ourselves, to be free.
Reacher's personal appearance helps illustrate this dream, like visual poetry. At six-foot-five and 220+ pounds, he's huge. Yet his brawn always serves his brain and heart. Though he kills, it's not in rage, but for justice, and he solves his cases largely through Poirot-like insight. Combined with his inner life, his size suggests a marriage of brute strength to sensitivity.
Do Pratt readers feel that Cruise can embody this vision? To find out, I conducted a casual survey. Of 12 Reacher readers from five branches, all but two opposed the casting. Here are some quotes:
Errol: "I think Cruise is going to do a good job."
Richard: "As long as Reacher is tall, fit, moderately good looking (but not tooooo good looking), and able to cultivate that i-don't-give-a- attitude, anyone, including Cruise, should be able to do it."
Pat: "I don't think of Reacher as someone with Tom Cruise’s good looks. I would have picked somebody a lot more craggy-looking."
Sharon: "Cruise just doesn't fit that character. Reacher is more of a no-nonsense type."
Cleaveland: "The size issues are enormous, and I just don't think Cruise, at five-foot-seven, comes across as Reacher, even if Cruise were a foot taller."
Jim: "Reacher's physique is integral to feats he must accomplish in each book... Cruise literally just doesn't measure up."
Michael: "Cruise is a ridiculous choice, too short and not intense enough."
Whitney: "He’s just not manly enough!"
Avidreader1: "He’s just not 'substantial' enough, and seems somewhat soulless."
Joyce, Central Librarian: "Reacher is more a symbol of the triumph of good over evil and Cruise is more a whiner. Reacher could inspire legions to troop through the gates of Hell and Cruise can't inspire me to spend good money to walk through the doors of a theater."
Julie Johnson, Roland Park Library's Manager: "NOT going to see the movie. NO way."
Anonymous, who was in an airport when he heard about the casting: "I screamed."
Pratt readers unhappy with the Cruise casting are not alone. Over 6,000 people have "liked" the Facebook page "Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher." Though Child supports Cruise, he says he understands his fans' concern. Reacher would understand too, if he were real, since loyalty to a dream which Hollywood may have betrayed is nothing if not Reacher-like. When he sidesteps a woman's charms for the sake of a woman to whom he’s already pledged, in Running Blind, the jilted woman says admiringly, "I like that in a guy... Steadfastness." It can also be attractive in a reader.
What do YOU think about the casting? Please leave your comment below.