Everything you need to know about Jack Reacher appears before the character says his first word six and a half minutes into the pilot. He’s a physical specimen – 6’5″, 250 pounds – that could have been better a defensive end than Lawrence Taylor. Reacher is highly-intelligent as he meticulously listens to every detail that comes from the mouth of Oscar Finley (Malcolm Goodwin), Chief Detective of the Margrave Police Department. The war medal in his pocket shows the audience that Reacher probably spent some time in the military, and the lack of luggage means he’s a no-nonsense type of man.
This silent assassin headlines Prime Video’s Reacher, based on the first book in the series from Lee Child, Killing Floor. In the opening scene, Reacher, played by Alan Ritchson (Blue Mountain State, Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), steps off a bus in the small town of Margrave, Georgia, and quickly becomes entangled in a series of murders that take over the entire community. After he learns about his brother’s involvement, Reacher teams up with Finley and Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald) to get to the center of the criminal conspiracy that spans beyond the borders of Margrave.
With the summary out of the way, let’s get down to the brass tacks. Reacher is a certified killer, and his body count throughout the first season rivals that of John Wick. Reacher is constantly the smartest man in every room, and he lets you know it. His first words in the series are “I don’t need a lawyer” after being questioned about the first murder in Margrave. The former major in US Army’s military police then explains why Finley should be looking for three shooters, not one, due to the complexity of the crime.
As someone who hasn’t read the novels, my pre-existing relationship with the character is nonexistent. All I had to go off of were the two Jack Reacher films starring Tom Cruise. The Top Gun star may be a giant movie star, but he’s not big in stature, standing 5’7″, which is nowhere close to the gigantic frame of the character. The series goes out of its way to emphasize Reacher’s size, most notably when he corrects someone who guessed his height as 6’4″ instead of 6’5″. From the reviews of the show, the Prime Video series is more faithful to the character than Cruise’s iteration.
Prime Video perfectly cast Ritchson for the role. He’s a big, strong, good-looking actor that doesn’t have to say much to carry a scene. It helps that Ritchson is 6’4″ and has experience playing “big guy” roles as Thad Castle in Blue Mountain State, Aquaman in Smallville, and Hawk in Titans. Even for his imposing stature, Ritchson still had to gain 30 pounds of muscle to play this iconic character.
Part of the show’s strength is its simplicity. Each episode follows the same script, which makes it extremely easy to watch. Reacher gets a lead on the case, kicks some ass, makes a witty joke about his kills, and finds the next clue that leads into the new episode. There’s no need to run to Reddit after every episode to search for Easter eggs. Critically thinking about the politics of the series or figuring out the overall message of the show isn’t necessary. Reacher knows it’s an entertaining whodunit with a badass leading man, and every episode leans into that premise. Creator Nick Santora understood the assignment. It’s the perfectly enjoyable version of “big dad energy.”
The commitment to stay true to the novels has paid off as Amazon renewed Reacher for Season 2. Amazon already came out and said it’s one of the service’s five most-watched series of all time. The service should lock Ritchson up for more action roles because he will be in high demand as the show’s popularity increases.
Reacher knows what its fans want, and delivers like a warm slice of peach pie.
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