Crime fiction on the big screen

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Movies inspired by books are not a new thing. Nor is that feeling of: ‘Meh, the book was better.’ It wasn’t quite a Dragon Tattoo year, but even so several big names from the world of crime fiction were committed to the silver screen in 2012, and we thought a look at what went from book-to-film last year was in order. Did you see any of them? And if so, what did you think?

Jack_Reacher_posterJim Grant, better known under his pen name Lee Child, burst onto the scene with Killing Floor in 1997, introducing his hero Jack Reacher. That book went on to win the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and Lee Child proceeded to write more than 15 novels in the series to date. Jack Reacher’s popularity is legion and when it was announced that the diminutive Tom Cruise was to play the six-foot-five, 220-pound Reacher, fans were more than a bit concerned and you can see some of their comments here. Reviews seem to be somewhat mixed, with Rolling Stone saying that Tom Cruise nailed it. Originally, the film was to be based specifically on One Shot, from Lee Child’s series, which now has Cruise’s face on the Kindle cover. However, the producers decided Jack Reacher was a better name for the movie. What did you think?

One_for_the_Money_PosterOne for the Money, starring Katherine Heigl is based on the 1996 book of the same name by Janet Evanovich. It kicked off what has become a popular series for the author, all about the inept bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. Stephanie must take a job at her cousin Vinnie’s bail bond agency and ends up having to chase down former vice cop Joe Morelli after he’s accused of murder. The fact that he’s an old flame of Stephanie’s only complicates an already precarious situation. She must balance her new job with a quirky family and challenging coworkers. This one is obviously a must for Janet Evanovich fans, and fans of the series.

AlexCross2012PosterAnother film in 2012 made from a very popular series was Alex Cross. Washington, DC detective Alex Cross is James Patterson’s creation and has appeared in more than 16 novels to date. The film Alex Cross is based, roughly, on the 12th novel in the series which was simply titled Cross. It stars the baby-faced Tyler Perry in the title role and Matthew Fox as the heavily tattooed villain. Alex Cross pursues a villain who is a martial arts expert and military. Unfortunately, a screenplay by James Patterson himself evidently couldn’t save this clunker. Incidentally, Morgan Freeman has previously played Alex Cross in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider.

Lawless_film_posterNext up is Lawless, which stars Shia LeBouf and Tom Hardy and is the true story of the Bondurant brothers Jack, Forrest, and Howard, who are bootlegging siblings in Prohibition era Virginia. There’s a new deputy in town and the brothers’ loyalty is tested under this new threat. The screenplay was written by singer Nick Cave, based on the novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant. This one is by all accounts excellent and should appeal to fans of southern noir and historical thrillers.

the-bourne-legacy-poster_195505The 2004 book The Bourne Legacy was written by Eric Van Lustbader based on Robert Ludlum’s concept, which spawned the Bourne series of movies. Here, Jeremy Renner, who was in The Hurt Locker, plays the chemically enhanced Aaron Cross and the story takes place at the same time as the previous film, The Bourne Ultimatum. Cross is part of Operation Outcome, a black ops US defense program that uses chemicals to enhance the mental and physical performance of its operatives. When a drone is sent to kill Cross, he’s on the run, not only for his life, but for the life of a doctor involved with the program, played by Rachel Weisz.

parkerLooking ahead to this year, there are already more than a few book-to-movie adaptations in the works. Parker, starring Jason Statham as Richard Stark’s thief with a conscience will be out soon. Liam Hemsworth is to star in a film based on Paranoia by Joseph Finder, about a tech company employee who agrees to participate in a shadowy scheme. Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star in The Wolf of Wall Street about a stockbroker that goes from success to white collar crime in order to support his drug addiction, based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort. Perhaps most exciting is the upcoming adaptation of The Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt. The Devil’s Knot is the true story of The West Memphis Three, a group of teenagers thought to be wrongly accused of killing three children. Damian Echols was recently released from prison and his story, as well as his friends’, is a fascinating, and sad one. There are quite a few big names attached to The Devil’s Knot such as Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth.

I’m sure there are plenty more in the pipeline, so please let us know if you’ve got the buzz on any good crime fiction books heading for the big screen.

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