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I got a little excited when I clicked open the source article that tells me Christopher McQuarrie has been hired to rework and possibly direct One Shot, based on the Lee Child novel of the same name. I love Child’s novels, which follow ex-military policeman Jack Reacher as he drifts across America. They’re perfect escapist entertainment: smart, taut and blessed with some fantastic action setpieces. (Thanks to CHUD’s Nick Nunziata for turning me on to the books many years ago.)

It’s inevitable that one of the books will become a movie eventually. I’d just like to see it be a good one. This could be the way.

THR says that McQuarrie, who recently wrote Valkyrie, The Tourist and a draft of Wolverine 2 (and obviously The Usual Suspects), is rewriting the project for Paramount. Studio is “eying the property as a potential franchise.” He’d be rewriting the last draft by A History of Violence scribe Josh Olsen. McQuarrie has been attached to direct films over the past few years, but his only directorial effort remains the underrated The Way of the Gun, from 2000.

One Shot isn’t the best book in Child’s series of novels featuring Jack Reacher, but I can easily see why it would make a good film. Like all the novels, it is part detective story, part thriller, part action tale. There’s a heavy police procedural aspect to this one, too, as Reacher and a young lawyer investigate a cluster of murders committed by a sniper one afternoon in a mid-sized Indiana town.

As is always the case when news of a Child adaptation comes up, the question is: who plays Jack Reacher? He’s a tall, broad, smart and crafty ex-military cop. (Huge is really the word.) His size is a crucial part of the character, in the sense that he spends a lot of time downplaying his cunning and letting the assumptions other characters make about his nature work in his favor.

Dwayne Johnson has the size, but not the nature. There are other big guys, but none seem quite right. This has been a sticking point for years — One Shot isn’t the first Reacher novel to go into development, and it might not be the first to get stuck in development hell, in part because sticking close to the original character description makes Reacher very difficult to cast.

Here’s the synopsis from Lee Child’s website, which also points to excerpts from the novel:

A lone gunman hides in a parking garage and shoots into a crowd in a public plaza in a small Indiana city. Five random people die in a senseless massacre. The shooter leaves a perfect trail behind him and the police quickly track him down. His name is James Barr. It’s a watertight case. After his arrest, James Barr refuses to talk. Then, to his lawyer, he utters a single phrase: “Get Jack Reacher for me.” But Reacher’s already on his way. What could connect this obvious psychopath with our wandering ex-army cop?

By the time Reacher hits town, Barr’s been beaten badly enough to forget everything about the day in question. So Reacher begins to piece together the wealth of evidence; he does the math and comes to a few conclusions of his own.

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