Why Isn't This A Film? - Killing Floor

What have we got here then?

Killing Floor was published in 1997 as the debut novel of then-unheard of writer Lee Child. Now fourteen years down the line, it is part of the successful Jack Reacher series of novels; loosely related thrillers all featuring Child's fictional hero.

OK fine. What’s it about?

Reacher, a drifter having been shuffled out of the military police, arrives in Margrave, Georgia at exactly the same time as the town's first murder in a number of years is perpetrated. Singled out as a guilty new arrival, Reacher is hauled off to jail and looks certain to be convicted of a crime he did not commit.

Interesting. Is there something more?

Although Margrave seems like an idyllic small town in the American South, it appears to harbour a dark secret. Reacher must get to the bottom of it to save the innocent townsfolk and clear his name.

Save me the trouble then – is it any good?

It is pure pulp. Pulp of the pulpiest kind. In the first few chapters of the book, there's barely a sentence that runs to over five or six words and the 'strong and silent drifter' archetype is played upon numerous times. That said, there's a lot of fun here for a straight up thriller with rough edges. The deaths are harsh, the women are beautiful, the men are square-jawed. It's not revolutionary by any means but the plot keeps you interested and Child's writing is easy to wile away the hours to.


At times, the simplicity of it all is distracting, rather than comforting. There's a fairly big twist at the end of the first act which seems far too reliant on coincidence and two or three of the directions which the plot takes just don't ring true. It's also far too long and Child takes a huge amount of time in both the setup and the middle third, leaving few pages for his big conclusion. It's enjoyable but full of cliché and plenty of the signs of a first-time writer are present.

What are its chances of being made as a film?

The novel series is hugely popular, the character would suit the big screen and the novel's style is completely in-keeping with your typical cinematic thriller. The only shock with this series is that it hasn't happened sooner. All signs point to the fact that the first Reacher novel to be adapted will actually be the ninth in the series, One Shot, which started its journey to the screen in 2008, hit the news columns again last year and is currently slated for a 2013 release.

But who'd star in it?

Reacher's CV, which Child includes at the front of the novel, cunningly misses off his age but seeing as his career in the military lasted a number of years, I assumed that he was perhaps older than your average action hero - maybe in his late thirties to early fifties. For whatever reason, I thought of James Badge Dale (above) whilst reading Killing Floor, most recognisable as Chase Edmunds in Day 3 of 24 but an actor who has also featured in The Pacific and who had a role in The Departed. The next two years will see him included in the cast of a couple of bigger releases. The star of one of those releases, The Grey, is Liam Neeson, an actor who recently only seems to have done pulpy stuff like the Reacher novels and who would fit the character if they wanted to make him slightly older. Hugh Jackman was rumoured early on and fans have also pointed to Dominic Purcell or Jason Statham as viable choices.

Reacher's love interest during his stay in Margrave, Roscoe, is a feisty female police office with a sense of duty and love for the town. The just-cast-in-Superman, Diane Lane might suit depending on the age of the actor playing Reacher. Halle Berry would also be a great choice for the role. Reacher's other ally in Margrave, Finlay, completely fits Keith David. I couldn't actually see a different actor filling the role.

Will it be any good?

This sort of thing is hit and miss but with a visionary director in the lead it could work and go on to establish a successful franchise. Reacher is a fearsome character and the book has the tone of a neo-Western, something which seems quite popular these days. Alternatively, someone could prime it as an action vehicle for Statham and shoot firmly for the mediocre.

Anything else I should know about it?

There are fifteen Jack Reacher books, making the series potentially lucrative for studios who love spin-offs, sequels and prequels. The most recent novel, Worth Dying For, was released in September 2010.

Why Isn't This A Film? is a regular Film Intel feature which takes a book (you know... one of those things with pages in, doesn't project on to a screen, makes small rustling noises), comic, video game or graphic novel and assesses its adaptation prospects. One day this feature will get something right and we will win something major and valuable. Possibly.


  1. Reacher is a huge guy so my choice would be Dolph Lundgren after his impressive showing in The Expendables.

  2. I was only thinking yesterday that THE EXPENDABLES has been on my rental list for ages and I've still not been sent it yet! I can definitely see what you mean there. If he was given it, I think they'd definitely try to take it down a more action-orientated route... not that it isn't fairly full of action anyway!