The three Jacks are fictional dynamos who can get the job done

If you’re like me, you can’t help but be worried about the state of the world these days. Everywhere you turn, it seems there’s animosity, upheaval, and some kind of trouble.

Just watching the evening news or reading the paper can give you a massive headache. What makes it worse is it’s so hard for everyday folk like us to do anything concrete that really makes a difference.

Yes, we vote but don’t you wish there was a way to make a real impact?

Well, we may not be able to do anything really big and bad, but I know three guys who can, and they’re all named Jack: Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, and Jack Bauer. These three fictional dynamos can really get the job done, and done well.

The three Jacks, as I call them, were all born out of frustration with the many thorny problems in the world and how to fix them, but not just fix them — to crush them. The fact that they’re all fictional heroes named Jack – tough guys that pack a punch and then some – should tell you all you need to know about how frustrated we all are today.

The three Jacks would never have become the huge mega-stars they all are if we all weren’t living vicariously through them. You can bet your bippy on that.

Jack Reacher

Let’s start with Jack Reacher, the ex-military nomadic wanderer brainchild of author Lee Child. From the very first page of the very first book, you know right away you are dealing with a man of action, a man who likes things settled quickly and effectively.

No waiting for new legislation to be enacted with Jack Reacher: Why wait for politics to help when a chop on some bad guy’s noggin is so much faster?

The Jack Reacher novels are quick and breathtaking reads; every time, Child reels you in with an intriguing premise, and then the action is non-stop for the remainder of the book. The sentences, especially the dialogue, are all short, crisp, and to the point; no excess filler or big words to slow you down.

Very Raymond Chandler-esque (think of his legendary pulp-fiction style detective, Philip Marlowe, complete with overcoat, hat, strong whiskey, and beautiful dames). That’s why the Jack Reacher novels are such fun to read.

For once, there’s a guy that can just handle problems, take care of business, and get things done. There are no gray areas with Jack Reacher — if you’re a bad guy, you’re going down. No two ways about it. Very satisfying, to say the least.

If you’ve been reading my column for a while, you know that while I like movies, I love books. The Jack Reacher novels are one great example why.

On page one of the very first Jack Reacher novel, “Killing Floor,” we’re told that he stands 6 feet, 5 and weighs 250. So guess who got to play him in the movies? All of 5 foot, 7 Tom Cruise!

It’s some kind of a terrible Hollywood joke is what it is. Just awful. Always go to the book first, you’ll be very glad you did.

Jack Ryan

Next we have Jack Ryan, from the many Tom Clancy books and movies. Though Clancy died a long time ago, Jack Ryan lives on as a huge money-making franchise with several other authors doing him justice.

Like Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan is an ex-military man, but where Reacher is the quintessential loner, Ryan is much more organizational savvy. He even becomes director of the CIA and the president as the books and movies go on.

Of course, Ryan can kick your butt with a chop or a kick like Reacher, but he’s much more likely to use his deductive reasoning skills to unravel some global terrorist plot that threatens his country and, many times, his family at the same time.

Jack Ryan books and movies are for the real military intelligence and hardware geeks. Clancy’s deep knowledge of military procedures, weapons systems, and inter-agency politics was so vast and detailed, many in the military read him for tips and tricks.

If you like really intricate spy stories with complex plots and a lot of action, you can’t go wrong with Jack Ryan. The books are all great, and, unlike with Reacher, the three actors chosen to play Ryan — Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck — are very believable as this smart, strong, and dynamic character. Too bad Jack Reacher didn’t get so lucky.

Jack Bauer

Finally we have Jack Bauer, the star of the TV series “24.” It’s rare for me to get excited about something not based on a good book, but the premise of “24” — each episode shot supposedly in real time — was too interesting to pass up.

Jack Bauer is a member of the fictional Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), and as such the writers had him involved with many fast-paced, multi-layered story lines (bombings, pandemics, nuclear threats, etc.) taken straight from the headlines.

Like the other two Jacks, Bauer is a man of action. No pussy-footing around with him. He gets to the gist of the problem quickly and then gets to fixing it straight away. In fact, he gets so much done in 24 hours, he never even has time to go to the bathroom, sleep, or eat.

The thing about Jack Bauer, probably because his character is written for TV as opposed to the other two who are mostly literary, is you get to see all his violence and depravity up close, and often in excruciating detail.

My lovely wife started to watch “24” with me but then had to quit when it got too graphic for her. Jack Bauer has no problem hooking up electric wires to your delicate parts, or drilling into your head with a power drill, or tweaking any number of body parts with pliers, if it gets him closer to the truth or the bad guy.

It’s one thing to read about this stuff, but it’s another to have it go on in all its gory detail right on the screen in your living room. Still, Jack Bauer is a great character, and “24” always took you for a rollicking ride that you never wanted to stop.

Macho name

So there you have it. Three dynamic heroes, all named Jack, and don’t think it’s happenstance they are all named Jack, either. Jack is such a macho name, straight and to the point.

You can feel the testosterone oozing if you say it the right way. If you’re old enough, you may even remember Jack LaLanne, the exercise guru from the fifties, who was arguably the fittest guy on the planet for decades.

All I know is I went on and on about all three Jacks for so long and with so much enthusiasm that my new grandson got named Jackson, or “Action Jackson,” as I like to call him. Coincidence? I think not.

You take any of the three Jacks — Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, or Jack Bauer — and add in the fourth Jack, Jack Daniels (try to find the green label, it’s much smoother) and you’re in for a fun night in the easy chair for sure.

Just relax and enjoy the ride, because it’s bound to be a good one.