The number one comment that readers of my new novel Tail of the Dragon ask me is when will it be a movie, because the car chase in the book—which takes place over half of the story is so stunningly exciting that they want to see it up on the silver screen. I have been telling them that it’s not likely to be soon, because Hollywood isn’t making many car chase films these days, not like they did in the 1970s, which was my inspiration behind the book. On top of that–I am a conservative writer, and while Hollywood does endorse far left political activists like George Clooney and Sean Penn, it does not have a tolerance for people as fiscally and socially conservative as I am. So the list of producers and actors out there that would be able to take Tail of the Dragon from a novel and put it up on a movie screen in the manner that it is written is pretty short.
The other big problem is that the main character of Rick Stevens is so iconic, and strong that Hollywood isn’t producing actors that are able to reach the kind of emotional firmness that can capture the hero of Tail of the Dragon with the proper valor required. In these more politically left leaning times, characters like Rick Stevens are way too sure of themselves, and that is currently out of fashion in American film—where it used to be common place in Hollywood. Tail of the Dragon is in essence dedicated to all the great car chases of my youth set into overdrive. To accurately portray the high-speed chases that Rick Stevens embarks on in Tail of the Dragon it would require an actor like Steve McQueen, or a Burt Reynolds type who is actually a tough guy in real life–a thrill seeker, and would need to be a professional driver in some regard. Because the stunts that would be required to put Tail of the Dragon up on the silver screen would be unlike anything ever filmed before in any motion picture—so I don’t have much hope of finding the right combination of studio involvement, actor skill level, and financial commitment. CLICK HERE FOR SOME OF MY PREVIOUS WORK IN HOLLYWOOD. That is until I saw the clip below on Top Gear discussing the new Tom Cruise film Jack Reacher—which looks very promising.
It would take an actor/producer like Tom Cruise to bring the larger than life character of Rick Stevens to film, and it appears Cruise is back in that kind of character generating business, as his Jack Reacher looks like the kind of old-fashion throwback to the decades prior to 1990 filmmaking. That shouldn’t surprise me as Cruise is from Cincinnati just as Steven Spielberg is along with George Clooney and it takes someone from the Midwest to understand a story that takes place in the heart of the country. Tail of the Dragon is truly a modern version of Smokey and the Bandit and the great Tom Cruise classic Days of Thunder, so Tom Cruise would be a good fit—if the stars lined up properly.
I knew when I wrote the novel that it was a bit out of fashion in the present day as it makes no attempt to be contemporary except for the fact that the 700 HP 1977 Firebird in the story runs off a special vegetable oil fuel mixture which is very much in line with modern technical achievement, but the rest of the story is good ol ‘fashioned storytelling that is unapologetic in its larger-than-life presentation. I figured that sometime over the next 20 years such personal valor as exhibited from Rick Stevens in Tail of the Dragon would come back into style, and at that time there might be a chance for such a grand story to find its way to the silver screen.
I am delighted to see that Tom Cruise is back at it with Jack Reacher because honestly, I have missed these types of films terribly. The Fast and Furious films are good, but there is human nobility that is missing from those characters that is all too common in so many modern stories. Tom Cruise made his living for many years playing larger than life characters in films like Top Gun, Days of Thunder, and Mission Impossible, so there are still actors/producers in Hollywood who are capable of getting behind the wheel of a car like the one in Tail of the Dragon and telling the story of Rick Stevens and his bold, high-speed adventure through the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.
In the meantime, I think I’m going to go see Jack Reacher and relish in Tom Cruise’s latest movie. There is a part of me that is rooting for Cruise to make a comeback to the silver screen, because honestly, I think Hollywood needs him.