Here are six series of books for men, that have been absolutely ripe for the picking for years now, but which for some reason haven’t been turned into movies yet.
I’m talking about page-turners. I’m talking about, you need to be careful picking up one of these books before bedtime, because when you put it down, it’ll be 4:00 a.m., and you’ll be a zombie at work all day.
Actually the first two authors have had one book of their respective series turned into a movie: Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character was played by Tom Cruise in “Jack Reacher,” and Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger was played by Mark Wahlberg in “Shooter.”
However, there are 20 books in the Jack Reacher series, and 9 books about Bob Lee Swagger, not to mention 4 books about Bob’s dad, Earl, who’s a movie franchise all to himself.
1. Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher is the lead character/protagonist in the series by British author Jim Grant, writing under the pseudonym of Lee Child.
The books follow the larger-than-life, 6’5″ Reacher, an ex military-cop-turned-drifter, whose adventures occur in the pit-stops of his restless roaming back and forth across America. When people in distress wander across his path, he gets involved in their world for a bit, solves their problems, and then hits the road again.
He’s a genius-level detective, a fearless brawler with years of street-fighting experience, and a competition-level sniper. He’s got various idiosyncrasies, such as carrying only a toothbrush, subsisting mainly on black coffee, and when his clothes get dirty, he can’t be bothered with laundromats—he chucks them in the trash and buys a new set.
Typical man-who-needs-a-wife stuff, except Reacher’s reached that stage in life when men become like older male whales. The thing scientists discovered about old bull whales is that they eventually get sick and tired of cows and calves, and split off from the pod and go happily swim the seven seas all by themselves. That’s Reacher.
Most die-hard fans of the books were outraged at the casting of the 5’9″, brunette Tom Cruise. Reacher is 6’5″ and blonde. This is clearly the role of a lifetime that 6’5″, blonde Dolph Lundgren missed out on—Lundgren’s too old now.
Tom Cruise, however, being the severely underrated actor he is, turned in a raise-your-eyebrows, tilt-your-head, shrug-your-shoulders, push-your-lips-out, and nod-in-admittance-you-were-wrong performance.
2. Bob Lee Swagger
Bob Lee Swagger’s a grizzled Vietnam War veteran, a mythic sniper with a confirmed-kill count of over 300 (and thought to be much higher), who’s quicker on the draw than Sundance Kid, and is basically author Stephen Hunter’s summing up and catering to the Southern states, Appalachia and Ozark Mountain white-male fantasy.
Swagger’s basically a Scots-Irish (probably) Southern, military, guns-and-ammo, deer-hunting, and NASCAR type of guy, crossed with a Clint Eastwood-esque, silent, high plains drifter demeanor. The novels cater unabashedly to NRA types; one could pretty much call it gun-porn writing.
The novels are “Point of Impact,” “Black Light,” “Time to Hunt,” “The 47th Samurai,” “Night of Thunder,” “I, Sniper,” “Dead Zero,” “Soft Target,” “The Third Bullet,” and “Sniper’s Honor.”
Wahlberg played him well. Keep him in the role.
3. Earl Swagger
Bob’s dad Earl’s got 3 books: “Hot Springs,” “Pale Horse Coming,” and “Havana.” Bass-voiced quick-draw artist/ex-marine-turned-highway patrol officer Earl might have been played by ex-marines-turned-actors Scott Glen or Lee Marvin, and is even more Clint Eastwood than his son Bob.
The novels involving Earl definitely revive a Southern, Gothic, racist atmosphere—not the best thing America’s got going—except that the excellence of the writing cannot be denied.
4. The Gray Man
The Gray Man’s real name is Courtland Gentry, and he’s the greatest assassin/sniper of all time. He’s heroic in that the only jobs he’ll take on are killing bad people. His one-time mentor and team leader, Zack Hightower, is an ex-SEAL.
CIA black-ops teams operate in the shadows, and, as it’s described, Zack and Court were part of an even more exclusive team that operated in the shadows cast by the black-ops teams, operating in the shadows.
Then, Court messes up (for three long books he can’t figure out what he did wrong) and the CIA want him dead. They can’t catch him. The writing is absolutely riveting. Taylor Kitsch would make a good Court Gentry.
5. Gil Shannon
Gil Shannon is—what else—an ex-U.S. Navy SEAL and world-class sniper. He’s the hero of Scott McEwen’s “Sniper Elite” series, and he galavants about the globe, blatantly ignoring military and presidential orders, doing heroic deeds very violently.
He’s often in the company of his even more violent buddy, the ex-Green Beret/ex-Delta Force captain, Daniel Crosswhite, an incorrigible handsome devil/bad-boy with a killer grin and a terrible temper. Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave,” “Steve Jobs”) would make a good Gil.
Former spec-ops-turned-Coke-model, Lucky Vanous, would have made a good Daniel Crosswhite, except he’d have needed to learn how to act.
6. John Rain
Barry Eisler’s books are about an ex spec-ops CIA assassin whose job is to make hits look like accidents. They are also seriously engrossing reads, but the character of John Rain, unlike Court Gentry, while palatable for a while, ultimately becomes a bit creepy. Rain’s buddy Dox is a—guess what—ex-marine sniper.
The books will most definitely get made into movies once Hollywood gets a hold of them. Scriptwriters will clean him up a bit, and he’ll be good to go. Rain’s part Asian, so maybe Keanu Reeves will play Rain—he’s a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese, which becomes more apparent as he gets older. He’s also on a roll of playing assassins. There are 8 books in which Rain appears.
Here a Sniper, There a Sniper
Notice a common denominator here? Here a sniper, there a sniper, everywhere a sniper, sniper. This is mostly what men want to read about in books and see in the movies these days, it would seem. This trend is explained in the following articles: