Following Tom Cruise's recent movies based on Lee Childs' novels, the military man is on the small screen in a new adaptation with Alan Ritchson in the titular role.
A few days ago, Amazon released a TV series adaptation of Lee Childs' iconic series of novels, Jack Reacher. The show, simply called Reacher, was based on the first book in this sprawling set (Killing Floor) and unlike the recent movies based on the IP starring Tom Cruise in the titular role, this series casted an actor, Alan Ritchson, in the lead, a figure more befitting of the protagonist's physical proportions and build. Going in, I was under the assumption that this series would be a typical action show, with a muscular hero fighting impossible odds to save the day, and while there are these elements present, Reacher also serves up an intricate and twisting plot that gives this series a faithful and truly engaging presence on the small screen, something that wasn't really achieved even with Cruise's portrayal.
Marking the first chapter in Reacher's lengthy story, the first season tells the narrative of the veteran military private investigator as he wanders into a small town in Georgia, USA on the trail of his brother. Things don't necessarily go to plan, as Reacher is soon wrongly arrested as a murder suspect, and is quickly thrust into a investigation packed with conspiracy, corruption, loss, and a vast criminal network that spans the entire town. Alike the movies starring Cruise, this series features plenty of intrigue and confounding mysteries for Reacher to unravel, and balances these with action-packed scenes where you get to see the true extent of Reacher's advanced military training.
The plot itself is well conveyed and thought out and is thoroughly enthralling at every turn. It's the sort of series where every scene feels like it has a place and purpose when it comes to advancing the core narrative, and with that in mind you never become bored when watching. This is elevated by the dialogue, which has a healthy balance of heavy-hitting emotional lines and daft, almost 80s action movie-inspired quips that really identify and bring to life the macho character that is Reacher.
But, with this being said, the creators and writing team, along with Ritchson, have done a great job at giving Reacher personality and pushing the character past the typical hard-shelled, emotionally-distant military man that has been explored countless times before. Sure there are aspects of the trope that are reflected here; his reticent and reserved nature, his almost mechanical, logistical thought process, but you can see there are layers to this character, layers that shroud a caring, gentle and complex figure that is more than just muscle and might. And because of this, Ritchson's portrayal of Reacher feels real, feels natural, and is an absolute highlight in a surprising adaptation.
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While Ritchson embodies and suits the persona of Reacher, his performance isn't the only one that is top-notch. The supporting cast, whose future remains unclear despite the show being renewed for a second season, bolsters the series significantly as each cast member seems to have plenty of charisma and bounces off one another incredibly well. The sophisticated character of Oscar Finlay, played by Malcolm Goodwin, polarises Reacher and yet the two have a deep chemistry on-screen. Add to this the tough heroine of Roscoe Conklin, portrayed by Willa Fitzgerald, who brings a degree of humanity to the hyper-masculine Reacher, and you get a core cast trio that are captivating at every turn.
I've already talked about how the show has plenty of action to look forward to, and for the most part this is handled well and with a tight choreography. There are plenty of gunfights, knife fights, and my personal favourite, fistfights, and they're balanced out so it never feels like you get too much of one. Seeing Ritchson's Reacher land a thunderous slap on a local miscreant is one of the my top moments in the entire series, so hopefully we get plenty more of that whenever the next season lands.
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I will say one of the areas of the show that felt a little lacking was a core antagonist to follow. Granted, with it being a mystery, the core villain isn't disclosed until near the end of which by that point the motivations of said baddie feel a little rushed. In fact, I'd go as far as to say, without spoiling anything, by the time the villain is unmasked, you never really feel as though it's going to work out for him, as you've seen Reacher overcoming all kinds of struggles and obstacles and, somehow, you're expected to assume that this opponent will genuinely cause the decorated ex-military man a problem. It's a little hard to get behind and it sort of feels as though the story is over before the conclusion ever really comes around.
But, for the most part, Reacher is genuinely one of the better TV series I've seen as of late, and is in my eyes one of the best productions to ever land on Prime Video. It's engaging, doesn't overstay its welcome with a season that's too long, has captivating action, and the production team and showrunners have really exceeded expectations with the casting of Ritchson as Reacher, as it feels natural and right. With such a wide array of source material to draw from, I'm thoroughly excited to see what the future holds for this series and where the next case will take Reacher, because I'm hooked.