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It Only Takes “One Shot”

I’m an unabashed, unapologetic fan of “The Way of the Gun.” I think it’s a minor classic, a modern Western with a noir sensibility, a meditation of love and trust, one of the truest display of the anti-hero  in film, and the first proof positive that Ryan Phillipe isn’t a no-talent ass clown. Chock a block full of interesting characters, twisty plotting, razor-sharp dialogue and old-school gunfights, it also should have been the movie that made Christopher McQuarrie, already an Oscar winner for his “The Usual Suspects” script, into an A-list director. Instead, it flopped and put McQuarrie into director jail for a decade.

So I’m thrilled McQuarrie is in talks to direct “One Shot,” a film version of the Lee Child novel about Jack Reacher, a rough-hewn, movie-ready tough guy who would make Jack Bauer cry for his momma. This is material that screams for McQuarrie’s touch. This can’t be some slick action film version of a lean, brawny novel, a la Wahlberg’s “Shooter.” No, “One Shot” calls for a more old-fashioned touch, one that harkens more to Peckinpah than MTV. This is violence for a reason, actions with recourse, and not just brainless explosions. And McQuarrie proved with one of the great cinematic gunfights he more than has the chops to pull of something like this.

(There is not a boring shot in that entire shootout AND you can actually follow the action. Suck on that, Michael Bay.)

I’m hoping this happens, not just to see the potential beginning of an interesting franchise (God knows, though, who they’ll cast as Reacher; they may want to go ahead and begin having scientists grow him in a lab somewhere in Switzerland so he can be ready for pre-production), but because McQuarrie deserves this, a chance to show that entertainment isn’t just flash and glitz but sinew and bone, that there is still room for the pleasure of good, muscular storytelling (God bless Kathryn Bigelow for keeping this particular flame alive), and that it doesn’t take a world of CGI to thrill us.

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