Reacher TV Review

Plot: Reacher follows Jack Reacher, a veteran military police investigator who has just recently entered civilian life. Reacher is a drifter, carrying no phone and the barest of essentials as he travels the country and explores the nation he once served. When Reacher arrives in the small town of Margrave, Georgia, he finds a community grappling with its first homicide in 20 years. The cops immediately arrest him and eyewitnesses claim to place Reacher at the scene of the crime. While he works to prove his innocence, a deep-seated conspiracy begins to emerge, one that will require Reacher’s keen mind and hard-hitting fists to deal with. One thing above all is for sure: They picked the wrong guy to take the fall. 

Review: Jack Reacher, the titular character from Lee Child’s best-selling series of novels, has already been seen on screen in two films starring Tom Cruise. Both films, moderate box office successes, adapted books in the middle of the twenty-seven volume franchise, and tweaked the personality of the character to match Tom Cruise’s style and build. While both movies were good, they were not quite the take on Reacher that fans of the books had been hoping for. Now, Prime Video’s Reacher, based on the first novel in Child’s series, brings to screen the version of the character people have been waiting to see. The results are a solid crime series with brutal fight sequences and a somewhat predictable plot structure. While that doesn’t make this a bad show, it is very different than the version Tom Cruise brought to the big screen.

Based on the 1997 novel Killing Floor, Reacher follows very closely to the source material and introduces us to Jack Reacher as he arrives in Margrave, Georgia. Immediately, Alan Ritchson’s portrayal of Reacher varies significantly from Tom Cruise’s. While Cruise tried to embody the quiet drifter with explosive combat skills, Ritchson’s NFL linebacker frame sticks out of the crowd, making him seem all the more daunting. Within minutes, this Reacher calmly and eloquently showcases his intelligence matches his physical presence, making him one hell of a protagonist. Ritchson, best known for playing Hawk in the DC series Titans, Aquaman in The CW’s Smallville as well as the motion capture for Raphael in the most recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, cuts a very imposing version of Reacher. His dialogue is always delivered in an even tone and he barely breaks a sweat when he has physical confrontations but he is far from robotic. But, as much as Ritchson is a physical specimen, he never exudes the charisma that makes Tom Cruise, well, Tom Cruise.

Told over eight episodes, those familiar with the novel will see that the 522-page novel is very accurately represented here with every twist and turn accounted for. Showrunner Nick Santora (Scorpion, FBI) doesn’t stray much from the book nor does he need to. With two dozen stories to pull from, Reacher could last for decades and not run out of material to keep it on the air. But, by sticking so closely to the book, fans of the novels won’t find very much to keep them engaged as this is a very workmanlike procedural that doesn’t do much to give it a distinct visual look or feel. Reacher has no opening credits and each episode picks up from right where the previous chapter left off, making this feel like an eight-chapter film rather than a television series.

What Reacher lacks in the visual department is more than made up for with a solid ensemble cast around Ritchson. Willa Fitzgerald (The Goldfinch) is a solid female lead as officer Roscoe Conklin. There is definitely chemistry between Fitzgerald and Ritchson and the writers never reduce Roscoe to a love interest. The Reacher novels have always treated female characters as strongly as their male counterparts, whether they be antagonists or protagonists. Roscoe is an interesting character to watch as her questions of Reacher help us learn more about him. Malcolm Goodwin is also very good as Oscar Finley, a Boston cop who slowly comes to respect and partner with Reacher to solve the murders in his town. The rest of the cast features character actor Bruce McGill, Smallville veteran Kristen Kreuk, and What We Do In The Shadows breakout Harvey Guillen. Everyone involved her is good but they often struggle to make this feel different than the dozens of procedurals on the airwaves.

The first season of Reacher features eight different veteran television directors who have worked on series like The Umbrella Academy, The Witcher, FBI, Preacher, Mayans MC, Cobra Kai, The Equalizer, CSI, and more. The commonality in the visual look of Reacher is that it never feels very cinematic which the feature films achieved. Without someone like Christopher McQuarrie at the helm, projects like this can slide into a formula that works against Reacher. The music by Tony Morales is subtly badass and supplemented by an array of rock and blues songs that work during the action sequences. The best I can say is that the fight scenes are choreographed well and they are pretty brutal. Those moments, combined with Ritchson’s dry delivery makes for a series with potential but one that just starts to feel stale as the season comes to a close.

Reacher is not bad, by any means, but it also fails to do anything to really make it stand out in the wake of Tom Cruise’s movies. Cruise is a tough act to follow for anyone and Alan Ritchson never tries to emulate or echo that performance. This is a series all its own and fans of Lee Child’s novels will certainly find that Ritchson is a better fit for the character. Unfortunately, there just is not enough to really make this series stand out all that much. But, if Prime Video can keep Bosch going for seven seasons, I would anticipate Reacher will be here for quite a while. I enjoyed the fight scenes a lot more than anything in the Cruise movies, but other than that, Reacher is just a serviceable mystery that isn’t mysterious enough.

Reacher premieres on February 4th on Prime Video.





About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.