In a little Midwestern town in America, a gigantic stranger named Jack Reacher enters and orders a peach pie from a mom-and-pop eatery. He is unexpectedly detained by the police at that point since he is the main suspect in a murder that happened the previous night. The problem is that the stranger is only recently in the community; how can he be involved? If he is the murderer, why does he do it and how does he do it? Who is the murderer, then, if he isn’t?
The Jack Reacher books by Lee Child, a hugely popular franchise that follows the escapades of one Jack Reacher, are the basis for the TV show.
He is a retired major in the US Army who travels the nation taking odd jobs and gets himself into increasingly risky situations. He is a 6 foot 5 inch tall man who prefers to live in a pair of inexpensive jeans and has no interest in purchasing designer clothing. He is ruthlessly skilled in hand-to-hand combat and uses his stature to his advantage. His persona, as the author has characterised it, is that of the knight-errant, a very American paradigm that is particularly prevalent in the western genre. In that sense, the Reacher books’ basic structure could be said to as neo-western.
Hardcore Reacher fans dislike the 2012 film Jack Reacher, which was directed by Christopher McQuarrie and starred Tom Cruise. On the one hand, Cruise does make the ideal casting because of his zeal and perseverance in carrying out his set-pieces and stunts. But, he received a lot of backlash for his physique (Cruise is 5 feet 7 inches tall and brunette, a stark contrast to the 6 feet 5 inches, 250-pound blond behemoth). Yet, Cruise’s energy and screen presence enhance what is fundamentally a classic action thriller movie, complete with a thrilling vehicle pursuit and several masterfully staged hand-to-hand battle scenes. Even though it was by no means a faithful adaptation, Cruise’s Jack Reacher was nevertheless a superb action movie. The sequel is better the less we talk about it.
In the year 2022, Amazon Studios has published Reacher, the first season of an eight-episode television series that largely adapts The Killing Floor, the first book in the Reacher series.
The impressive accomplishment that Amazon Studios has displayed demonstrates a synergistic method of content creation. Amazon is effectively retaining the format of reading a book and becoming completely absorbed in a world for endless amounts of time by turning popular franchises into television shows. The fact that the firm with the largest monopoly on the sale of electronic novels is simultaneously adapting them and profiting from an existing fan base makes a peculiarly perfect sense. It almost seems like a cynical strategy, yet they are skilled at it. Fans had reason to be hopeful about this Reacher adaption given the adaptations of Bosch and Jack Ryan as well as the relaunch of the science fiction series The Expanse.
Their optimism was mostly rewarded. With a few minor changes, Reacher Season 1 is a close adaptation of the first book. When Reacher (Alan Ritchson) enters Margrave, Georgia, he is detained upon suspicion of a crime he didn’t commit. He soon becomes involved in a criminal scheme involving fake currency.
Here, in all his 6 feet 4 inches of splendour, is a physically amazing and accurate reproduction of Alan Ritchson’s Jack Reacher. The most important query is: Would that be sufficient? Reacher is played by Ritchson, who is excellent in both the physical aspects and the action set-pieces. He also gives his character a touch of classic charm with a light sardonic sense of humour. Reacher isn’t depicted as being weak, thus Ritchson gives his character a certain level of stoicism. The plot also asks you to consider the holes in Reacher’s genesis story in the context of the present. It is practically impossible to live in 2022 without leaving a digital imprint; however, Nick Santora and his writing team intelligently avoid addressing the problem in favour of furthering the plot.
The tale and scenario advance quickly, with the stakes increasing as the conspiracy is gradually uncovered. Thankfully, the plot stops short of being blatantly absurd; the in-universe explanation for what happened doesn’t make you lose interest in the story. I’m more impressed with the supporting actors than Ritchson as Reacher. As Finlay, Malcolm Goodwin brings to life the irritated, stern lawman. He is the ideal counterbalance to Reacher, an unstoppable force that is violent and leaves a trail of dead people in his wake. The easygoing antagonistic chemistry between Goodwin and Ritchson develops into a growing camaraderie as the plot develops and the depths of their characters are made clear. Reacher’s romance with Roscoe Conklin, portrayed by Willa Fitzgerald with an easygoing yet assured charm, highlights the aspect of Reacher who is attracted to strong, physically assured women. The monologues on Reacher, however, particularly the ones that Reacher gives and in which he describes how to crack the heads of his next group of adversaries, how events happened, or how each level of the conspiracy fits into this jigsaw of a narrative, really make the show stand out.
The television programme Reacher makes no attempt to be intellectual. There are poignant emotional moments, particularly when discussing Reacher’s upbringing as a military brat and his bond with his older brother Joe. I am aware of Ritchson’s abilities as an actor to emote in vulnerable or challenging times because I saw him in Titans. Regrettably, he does come out as wooden during several crucial points; whether this is due of how he is briefed or how the character is written.
For the first few episodes, the show’s cinematography is mainly uninteresting, but there are occasional technical flourishes during the action scenes. The benefits consistently outweigh the story contrivances or the primarily weak villains over the course of the programme, whether it be one single long-take fight scene in Episode 2 or the rapid editing throughout the hand-to-hand combat sequences.
Reacher did, however, satisfy a certain need in my viewing preferences: the very basic action hero, western, or procedural enthusiast. And like another Amazon Prime Video mainstay, Bosch, I anticipate the same consistency in storytelling as the show develops over the course of upcoming seasons. Like in the books, each season would serve as a reset, yet the programme manages to create a lighthearted action thriller with neo-western undertones thanks to Child’s constancy as a writer. There are obvious issues, but because this is a programme made for the long haul, I am hopeful that they will be fixed. But for now, this appeases my inner reader, who enjoys a good, raunchy paperback thriller—isn’t that what I should anticipate as a fan?
Read More: Reacher Season 1: Ending, Explained