Reacher Season 1 Review

Reacher Season 1

WARNING — This article contains mild spoilers. While efforts have been made to avoid any major spoilers, it is still best to watch the show first if you don’t want it spoiled at all.

Reacher Season 1, a brand new Amazon Prime TV series based on the famous Jack Reacher books by Lee Child is scoring really well with critics and fans, but is it all that it is hyped up to be?
And can we ever get over it not being Tom Cruise?

The simple answer is YES.

The Plot

The plot is nothing too original and probably didn’t take a lot of work writing it. If anything, they probably adapted it from the first 80’s A-Team episode they watched.
Jack Reacher turns up in a small town for a fairly innocent reason and ends up the suspect in a murder.
From this point on he proves his innocence and the story then opens up about a small town being the heart of a major criminal network run by wealthy “town founders” that Jack helps in not only solving but also destroying.

While the plotline is a pretty “by the book” plot that has been adapted multiple times for other shows, it is the characters and the dialogue that really makes the show work while the plot is almost irrelevant as anything other than a way to create action scenes.
And unlike many other shows with similar plots, it stands out for not being tame with the graphic violence and scenes of murder.

This works really well for a no-nonsense 6ft 5in towering hulk, as Lee Childs intended for the role of Jack Reacher.
Where Tom Cruise would slap a few people around, Alan Ritchson tears them apart, and sometimes in a comically dark way.

Characters

First up we have Alan Ritchson who plays the title character.
This guy is not only very tall (which was one of the biggest complaints about Tom Cruise) but he is built like the Incredible Hulks bigger brother.

I have to admit it took me an episode to get used to this blonde, bulky machine of a man having the intellectual mind of Jack Reacher, but once I did overcome it, it works pretty well.
It works even better when some of the “silent and moody” characteristics he plays early in the first episode, give way a little to slight humour as he gets to know his surroundings and other characters.
By the end of the 8 episodes, I was completely sold on him being a big improvement over Tom Cruise and while I think he may have tried to play “Tom” a little at first to appease audiences, he definitely makes the role his own by the end.

Malcolm Goodwin plays Finlay and does the role well. He tries to be the intelligent, calm one that can outthink a criminal but is overshadowed by Reacher both physically but mostly intellectually, which leads to a cliched but entertaining butting of heads between Reacher and Finlay, in a similar way to Riggs and Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon.

Aside from Alan Ritchson, the stand out actress in the show is Willa Fitzgerald, who plays a strong-minded, kick-ass sheriff Roscoe in the show.
While some would be forgiven for thinking she was selected for being a gorgeous, blonde love interest for Reacher, she doesn’t heavily play into that role and instead carves out her own identity as someone confident and determined, who doesn’t take any bull from anyone, nor does she need Reachers protection.
It is also worth noting that the only clothes she seems to own are a sheriff uniform, leaving her naked or in underwear in several scenes (but who am I to complain?!).

The Strong Points

The strong characters and humour within the show are all the highlights of this show.
The way it flows at a decent pace and has all the ingredients of a Jack Reacher novel or movie is well done and you are definitely left at the end of the final episode hoping for more from him.
And with so much material available, and the ability to bring in new stories and new characters, while dipping in and out with cameo’s from past characters, this series can go for many seasons.
Another strong point is the realism of violence which for the most part are realistic and darker than many other action films or shows.
Some of the murder scenes are right up there as gruesome and remind you of a horror movie more than anything, but nothing is too overwhelming that you will have nightmares (or at least no longer than a night or two!) and there are no jumpy moments like a horror movie.
It is like the writers got the producers drunk when discussing what PG13 rating to go for and ended up getting them to agree to an R rating after three tequila shots.

The Weak Points

While I enjoyed the characters and the fast pace of the action, it wasn’t without its faults.
First and foremost, one of the bigger letdowns in the show was the actual plot which as I mentioned before, could have come straight out of an episode of an 80’s action movie.
It was less of a “whodunnit” thriller and more of a cheap excuse as to why we get to see Reacher beat up on multiple people.
It was generic and without hopefully spoiling it too much, the villains were mostly the villains you believe them to be early on, with very few shocking twists or turns along the way.
In fact, thinking that the plot was as clever as Reacher’s intellect, I had predicted an entirely different twist that left me deflated when it didn’t come true, and the glaringly obvious “twist” that I thought was a red herring, turned out to be exactly that.
Future series need to be written in a way where you really don’t have a clue who is behind the mask until the end episode, and the villain shouldn't feel the need to explain to the hero why they are the villain when it was clearly obvious from Episode 1.

Another weak point in the show is that character names come thick and fast and far too soon.
To really appreciate the series and what is going on is going to take a couple of run-throughs, because I found myself on google at the end to work out who was who and how they were involved.
It might just be me, but several of the characters who are murdered and are key cogs in the plot, die very early in the first episode and get barely any screen time, if any, to really make them memorable enough to remember.
If we got to know the characters, or at least see what they look like in flashbacks, we might put an identity to a name.
Trying to remember Tom, Dick and Harry, which living characters are related to them and whose house is being searched, is really hard when the character only has a name and was one of several characters never shown on screen.

Finally, one scene in particular really left me with a sour taste in my mouth and if you have not seen the show, maybe avoid this next bit…

The scene in question is the fight scene that ends in the Pool.
The entire scene involving Reacher fighting the nephew just felt wrong.
I don’t know if it was a miscasting of the nephew, or that the nephew should have had a military backstory to him, but what we got was a complete mismatch of characters.
A 6ft 5, 250lb tank of a man, with special forces training, who had previously taken down multiple assassins, thugs and convicted killers (often in a 1 versus a group fight), get his ass handed to him on a plate by a 5ft 7 scrawny weasel of a man.
The scene, while action-packed and dramatic just did not fit with who Reacher was and who was beating him up.
Reacher literally elbows a trained killer from Venezuela to death one minute and is then beaten senseless, unable to know how to defend himself the next by a guy that looks like a starving heroin addict.

Overall Summary

If you are looking for a new towering hero to fill your life, with fight scenes that are gritty and violent, matched with dark humour and strong characters played by some great lesser-known actors, then this is going to please you a lot.
But if you are looking for clever plotlines that make your brain hurt trying to solve the clues, or shocking twists and Scooby-Doo style “who is behind the mask” reveals, then maybe you will get more out of it if they make a better written Season 2.

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Paul Woodthorpe

Paul Woodthorpe

WWW.PAULWOODTHORPE.COM

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