Show Runner: Nick Santora
Cast: Alan Ritchson, Malcolm Goodwin, Willa Fitzgerald
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: Jack Reacher, a former U.S. Army military policeman, steps off a greyhound bus in the rural town of Hargrave, Georgia for a brief visit. As he settles down in the local diner the local police come barging in to arrest him for murder. In order to clear his name, Reacher must work with a local detective and officer to investigate a bloody conspiracy at the very heart of the town.
Season one of Racher is an adaptation of The killing floor, the first novel of Lee Child’s mega-selling Jack Reacher book series. Jack Reacher is an archetypical drifter-type character who seems to find trouble wherever he lands his feet; the major difference is he’s also a 6ft 5, 250-pound behemoth with elite skills from a former career as a military policeman. The previous Tom Crusie adaptation might have missed a few of these character traits by a foot and a hundred pounds. I cannot claim to have read the Reacher books, there certainly seems to be a buzz about the show’s faithfulness to the source material and not just in terms of the titular character’s stature.
While I enjoyed the Tom Cruise adaptation, Jack Reacher, it’s evident how much of a departure could leave fans of the novel with a sour taste in their mouth. Reacher knows its strength quite literally stands on the massive shoulders of its leading man, a task Alan Ritchson is more than capable of embracing. Ritchson is fantastic in the role, not only fitting the bill physically but also giving depth and charisma to a character that could very easily come across as one note. Jack Reacher might look like Conan the Barbarian but he’s got just as much brains to match his brawn, constantly having to think two steps ahead of his enemies. Some of my favourite scenes in the series are when Reacher uses his art of deduction like a modern, hulking version of Sherlock Holmes.
Fronting as both a crime mystery series and origin story for the central character, what sets Reacher apart from so many other mystery/thriller crime shows is its focus on excitement, sharp dialogue, and flawed but likable characters. While the murder mystery at the heart of the story soon goes off the rails into a huge conspiracy leading to an absurd body count, showrunner Nick Santora keeps the show exciting with plenty of humour sprinkled throughout (many meta moments calling out the absurdity of the rising violence). Perhaps most refreshing about Reacher is its awareness of what type of show it’s trying to be; comfortably taking cues from 90s action films and never taking itself too seriously, even though the show can get pretty graphic and dark at times.
As mentioned above, where the show didn’t quite find its footing was the mystery aspect of the story. There are almost more twists and turns over the 8 episodes to match a single episode of Prison Break, but my investment in the story was less in terms of what was going on and who was responsible, and more in regards to who Reacher has to punch and throw through a window. As well written as Reacher and his companions are, many of the supporting characters are nothing more than cardboard cliches, never acting out of character from your initial impression of them. This is particularly evident with the villains of the series who are prone to monologuing and delivering some eye-rolling ham-fisted dialogue.
Reacher is a well-written action romp that displays the benefits of faithfully adapting the source material. Alan Ritchson makes the character his own both in terms of size and also playing the stoic quiet type with the thousand-yard stare seamlessly, but also gets to flex his leading man chops with plenty of wits, snark, and vulnerability not typically found in our muscle-bound heroes. With the announcement of a second season and another 25 books to adapt, Reacher has a bright future ahead of it.
Slices of Peach Pie