LEVI McPHERSON, a graduate student of analytical chemistry at the University of North Central Florida, is approached by agents of the Homeland Security’s Counter-terrorism Unit. The agency is recruiting Lee to study and expose the loopholes of screening instruments in airports. Struggling financially, he accepted the offer, making him a paid, benevolent hacker of the nation’s gateway. Yet Levi is horrified when an Airbus from Los Angeles disintegrated in mid-air.

At 40, when everybody’s career trajectory is going up, Levi’s still a poor graduate student, struggling financially. His research projects however, are worth million dollars. Researching the highly classified and heavily guarded secrets of detecting traces of explosives, what Lee know was a goldmine. The agency's offer is his financial break . So Levi tackles the problem like a scientist, detailing the loopholes of the aviation security and turning what he knew into a big time money machine.

JIM and JONATHAN of the counter-terrorism unit, where nowhere to be found after Charlotte International Airport, a hub of Delta Airlines closed abruptly because of instrument malfunctions in their security lines. And in a post-Osama Bin Laden’s era, the biggest blow to the United Stated after the 9/11 disaster comes unexpectedly when a passenger plane blew up in the skies of Washington D.C., in the heart of the nation.

Levi knew it was only the start of more troubles, so he recruits his fellow graduate students to counter the future attacks. They have to think like criminals—and scientists too. With the help of FBI counter-terrorism experts, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency, the team races to close and plug the loopholes Lee identified.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lee Child's Reacher is going to the movie?

I'm a Bourne series big fan. So this will a a winning combination.

[COVER_JUMP1]Harry Zernike for the Wall Street Journal
Reacher Creature: Author Lee Child, shown in his New York City apartment, says of Hollywood: 'I was initially seduced by it all.'
As cameras roll, a police sergeant returns a toothbrush to Jack Reacher, an ex-Army MP major portrayed by Tom Cruise. It is pretty much Reacher's sole possession in life.
The acting unknown cast as the sergeant is Lee Child, author of the Reacher books. The scene, filmed last fall in an ornate old Pittsburgh library, depicts Reacher's release from jail after a brief incarceration. It comes near the end of "One Shot," a much-anticipated, big-budget feature scheduled to complete production later this winter. For fans of Reacher—the laconic protagonist of 16 popular suspense novels with more than 50 million copies in print—the moment will be monumental. By passing the toothbrush to Mr. Cruise, Mr. Child is passing one of publishing's most coveted batons to Hollywood.

Vote: Who Would Make the Best Jack Reacher?

Although the Reacher novels have been huge sellers, getting here has not been easy. During the last 15 years, many have tried and failed to bring Mr. Child's iconoclastic character to the screen. Some of the difficulties arose from the challenges inherent in adapting any literary work, but most were particular to Reacher. An unbending nonconformist, his personality runs counter to the prevailing Hollywood notion that a film hero must undergo an enlightening transformation over the course of a picture. Then there's the matter of Reacher's size. At 6 feet 5 inches and 250 pounds, he all but demanded the sort of larger-than-life movie actor not seen since John Wayne. Reacher fans are already carping online about the choice of the diminutive Mr. Cruise for the role. There's a Facebook page called "Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher."
Yet in an era when Hollywood seems more enamored of comic-book superheroes than literary crime fighters, this could be the beginning of a genuine film franchise. Not only have the Reacher books been best sellers—"The Affair" topped lists last fall—but the 49-year-old Mr. Cruise, after a descent into odd behavior (the "Oprah" sofa-hopping incident) and desultory box-office performances, returned to commercial form over Christmas with "Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol." The film, which in three weeks has grossed a remarkable $390 million world-wide, is the fourth in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise.
Jack Reacher will soon be portrayed by Tom Cruise in a feature film, but the road from book to film for author Lee Childs was long and rocky, Eben Shapiro reports on Markets Hub. Photo: AP.
"Tom Cruise is a global star, and you can't have a franchise if it's not global," says Sean Daniel, a former president of production at Universal Pictures who, while uninvolved in the Reacher project, was a producer on "The Mummy," which has spawned three sequels. "A franchise has to strike a nerve in every audience in every country in the world." Mr. Child's books have been published in 95 countries.
Hollywood's flirtation with Jack Reacher began in 1997 following the publication of "Killing Floor," the debut Reacher novel. Mark Johnson, who as a producer collected a best-picture Oscar for "Rain Man" and now is an executive producer on the AMC TV series "Breaking Bad," optioned the book for $100,000. Mr. Johnson had a deal with Polygram Filmed Entertainment, and he commissioned Brandon Boyce ("Apt Pupil") to write the script.
Mr. Child, a native Englishman who pens decidedly American books, had been an unknown author, recently fired from a directing job by Great Britain's Granada Television. He'd changed his name (from Jim Grant) and given himself a year to write a novel. For Hollywood to come calling was heady. "I was initially very seduced by it all," he says. "The meetings and the phone calls and that kind of stuff."
The project, however, went nowhere. " 'Killing Floor' is set in a small Southern town," says Mr. Johnson, "and the people we wanted to make the movie wanted a big, urban setting. I don't think they understood Jack Reacher."
Mr. Child was disappointed by the setback, but he believed that if he continued writing Reacher novels, his stock in Hollywood had to rise. "Instead of just grabbing something and running with it, producers would be forced to pay close attention to the text," he says. "As long as I kept getting paid—and if you look in the dictionary under free money, that's what a movie option is—I was pleased."
Associated Press (Jackman, Vaughn); Getty Images (Pitt, Smith, body); Reuters (Cruise)
HEAD SHOTS: Left to right: Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Vince Vaughn and Will Smith. All were discussed for the part over the years; it eventually went to Mr. Cruise.
Mr. Child cranked out a new Reacher novel every year. In the process he fashioned a fully realized protagonist. Reacher is by turns nomadic (he traverses America by bus), brainy (he's a West Point grad) and old school (he uses the names of forgotten New York Yankees as aliases). Moreover, he bears a resemblance to the heroes of several of Hollywood's longest-running film franchises.
Like Jason Bourne, the ex-foreign-services officer in "The Bourne Identity" and its sequels, Reacher is an erstwhile insider with knowledge of everything from weapons systems to Pentagon politics. Like Clint Eastwood's Detective Harry Callahan—aka Dirty Harry—Reacher exhibits little respect for protocols, including due process, presumption of innocence and other Constitutional rights. In a world filled with shades of gray where civil society is often helpless in the face of evil, Reacher possesses a clear moral vision, a willingness to cross lines and the ability to inflict enormous physical pain and damage. If a malefactor is beyond the grasp of justice, he simply kills him.
"Reacher is a concept that has essentially been market-tested for 3,000 years," says Mr. Child, who on a sunny morning sits in his Manhattan office. "Reacher is the noble loner. He's straight out of the movie Westerns, but he was not invented by them. He's copied from Europe's medieval knights errant, which were copied from earlier Scandinavian figures. "
Yet even as Reacher evolved, Hollywood remained unwilling to pull the trigger. Mr. Johnson shopped the idea for three years until Polygram suspended business. "I couldn't bring it home," he says. The rights lapsed.
In 2002, New Line Cinema picked them up. "It was a good deal," says Steve Fisher, Mr. Child's movie agent. The author got $250,000, 2½ times the money he received on the first option. New Line developed a script by John Rogers ("Transformers" and, more recently, TNT's "Leverage") and hired director Clark Johnson ("The Wire" and "Homeland"). "They showed it to some talent, but nobody bit," says Mr. Fisher. "People said it wasn't high-concept enough, but I don't know what that means. The difficult thing when you're a literary agent in Hollywood is that studio executives are notoriously inarticulate when they pass on projects."

Jack Reacher: Heavyweight Heartthrob

Height: 6 feet 5 inches
Weight: 220-250 pounds
Chest size: 50 inches
Hair: Dirty blond
Eyes: Ice blue
"His arms, so long they gave him a greyhound's grace even though he was built like the side of a house.... His hands, giant battered mitts that bunched into fists the size of footballs.

Barehanded Brawler

"He put all his weight on his back foot and lined up a straight drive aimed for my face. It was going to be a big blow. It would have hurt me if it had landed. But before he let it go I stepped in and smashed my right heel into his right kneecap. The knee is a fragile joint. Ask any athlete.... His patella shattered and his leg folded backward. Exactly like a regular knee joint, but in reverse.... He screamed, real loud. I stepped back and smiled. He shoots, he scores."
Mr. Child's background in television led him to develop some theories about what was happening. One is that Hollywood storytelling typically relies on character arcs in which the hero faces a number of moral dilemmas so he can change and grow.
Reacher is the opposite of that, Mr. Child says. "His appeal is that he does not change one iota. He's the same at the end of a novel as he was at the beginning, and he doesn't learn anything either, because he knew it all to start with."
Mr. Child cites another book-to-film difficulty—movies have trouble with interior monologues. "Readers like being in Reacher's head, thinking along with him," he says, "and my novels have a lot of long, internal passages that depend on Reacher's thought processes, his own quirkiness, his intuition, his mental capacity. There's no movie way of showing what an actor is thinking."
Casting, however, was the main stumbling block. Reacher's size is central both to his ability to prevail in violent encounters—he has a propensity for taking on gangs of thick-necked thugs—and to his self-concept. "To be born tall was to win life's lottery," Mr. Child writes in "61 Hours," a 2010 Reacher novel.
"Subliminally," Mr. Child observes, "everybody was saying, 'Find the biggest guy we can find,' which in Hollywood is not very big. Actors just aren't big guys."
Whoever played Reacher would also need to convey his intelligence. "There aren't a lot of actors who can do intimidating physical stuff and look smart on camera," says Mr. Rogers, author of the New Line script.
For a while, such names as Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt and Vince Vaughn were bandied about. "We went through a period," adds Mr. Child, "where we talked seriously about a black Reacher, which would have been interesting." Jamie Foxx and Will Smith were both discussed.
In 2005, just when the pieces seemed as if they would never come together, Paramount optioned the newest Reacher novel, "One Shot," plus the entire Reacher ouevre, for Tom Cruise's production company, where producer Don Granger ("Snakes on a Plane") was employed. Along with Kevin Messick ("The Other Guy"), Mr. Granger had worked on the aborted New Line effort.
The timing was propitious. "One Shot" was receiving rave reviews and selling briskly. The option was for big money—three times what Mr. Child received from New Line, bringing the total amount he'd earned from Hollywood to well over $1 million. "For the kind of money Paramount was paying," says Mr. Fisher, "I knew they were going to make this movie a priority, and that turned out to be the case." In 2010 the studio upped the ante by extending the rights further into the future. The picture was a joint production of Paramount and Mr. Cruise's company. Later, they were joined by Skydance, the film-financing company owned by David Ellison, son of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
To get at the interior Reacher, director Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for writing "The Usual Suspects" and will likely share the writing credit on "One Shot" with Josh Olson, scripted sequences during which the camera holds steady on Reacher's silent, pensive face. (Paramount declined to make the filmmakers available, saying it wanted to restrict publicity until closer to the movie's expected 2013 release date.)
PUBLISHING POWER: Lee Child's Reacher series has been published in 95 countries and 40 languages. Fifty million copies have been sold world-wide.
This left only one dilemma: casting Reacher. In 2000, Mr. Child told England's Birmingham Post (his hometown paper) that he liked Russell Crowe or former football player Howie Long for the role. "Definitely not Tom Cruise," he cracked. "He's too short." But he added, "what is most important is that it's a good movie."
Now Mr. Child has done an about-face. "What they ultimately did," he says, "was to decide, 'Let's just forget about finding an exact physical facsimile.' And that was liberating. It was an epiphany. Tom Cruise was always interested in playing Reacher, and he has the acting skills to pull it off."
Despite the author's endorsement, the outcry over Mr. Cruise's 5-foot-8 height continues. On the "Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher" Facebook page, one commenter posted, "Once Cruise starts to pervade the Reacher character in your mind—it makes reading any of the books kind of weird." A number of so-called "Reacher Creatures" voiced a preference for actor Ray Stevenson ("Thor," "The Three Musketeers"). Mr. Cruise, who Paramount said wouldn't comment, told the movie magazine Empire last summer that he was "sensitive" to the demands of the role and proud that Mr. Child blessed him for it.
Says Mr. Child: "With another actor you might get 100% of the height but only 90% of Reacher. With Tom, you'll get 100% of Reacher with 90% of the height."
Not that the film version of "One Shot" will be a slavish re-creation of the novel. The book opens with a series of apparently random slayings in an anonymous outdoor plaza; the movie will begin with a sniper scanning a crowd at Pittsburgh's PNC Park (home of the Pirates) before focusing on a group walking down a nearby path. Moreover, the ethnicity of the book's villain, "the Zec," has been changed from Russian to German to accommodate the casting of director Werner Herzog in the part. The overall number of characters has also been reduced—a typical book-to-movie mandate.
But in the main, says Mr. Child, "One Shot" the film will be extremely faithful to the novel. "That's the upside of having waited. The Reacher series is now so strong and well-established it would have been completely perverse of them to have ignored the spine of the novel."
Observes Mr. Johnson, Reacher's initial Hollywood suitor: "This feels like Reacher's moment. In a franchise, what matters is not the universe but the main character. With some exceptions, the 'Star Wars' films being the most notable, it's about someone we find fascinating. Reacher is like Indiana Jones—you'd follow him anywhere."
Mr. Child says he's superstitious even talking about sequels, but if "One Shot" flies, "Killing Floor" would probably be the next Reacher feature. "61 Hours" was considered, but its snowy South Dakota setting would be tough to create or work in. "Bad Luck and Trouble" has been discussed as a possible No. 3.
Even if "One Shot"—true to its title—doesn't generate sequels, Mr. Child says he'll be OK. "If I can go to my grave feeling that I contributed one tiny thing to the world of film, I'll be a slightly happier man," he says. "It's a bit like if you get one at-bat in the major leagues. Then you're in 'The Baseball Encyclopedia' forever."

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