'Reacher' Season 1 - TV Review

Jack Reacher is a literary character created by Lee Childs - who turns out to be a British author. That's interesting, as Reacher is former American military who spends his time wandering the U.S. and investigating murders and the like there. A previous attempt was made to bring Reacher to the big screen, with Tom Cruise starring in "Jack Reacher" in 2012, and the rather worse "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" in 2016. The adaptations weren't terrible, but Tom Cruise is 5'6" and Jack Reacher is described as 6'5". That's a huge difference that justifiably offended a lot of fans because Reacher's size is very important to nearly every plotline.

This outing is an eight episode series from Amazon starring Alan Ritchson as Reacher. Ritchson is a mere 6'2", and a former Teenage Mutant Turtle, but he's also massively muscled. In fact too much so: Reacher describes himself as "a hobo," perpetually travelling from place to place. I'm sorry, but while he could easily be "muscular" with that lifestyle, getting into a gym routinely to maintain that huge and chiseled physique as a "hobo" is simply not possible.

We first see Reacher arriving in Margrave, Georgia - where he is almost immediately arrested for a murder that was committed the previous night. While being held, he meets Margrave's prickly chief detective, Oscar Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin) and police officer Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald) - and shows an incredible knowledge of both police procedure and the law.

Reacher is a lot of things: he's a decent person, a physical powerhouse without the slightest qualms about killing, and an irritating and uncommunicative asshole. He also does Sherlock Holmes-level intuition. Worse (and this is kind of crap writing), Reacher refers to Findlay as a Sherlock-Holmes type - five minutes before Reacher himself goes on a Holmes-like analytical spree on Findlay just by looking at him, saying "you're divorced for this long, you stopped smoking three months ago," etc.

Putting all these relatively minor complaints aside, the series is well constructed and surprisingly compelling. It's also very violent - the bad guys torture people in spectacularly grotesque and nasty ways (we see the fallout and get to hear descriptions) and Reacher kills multiple people himself. This put me off a bit, although not enough to stop me watching. But clearly they intend this to be a series: Childs has written 26 novels starring Reacher as of early 2022 and this series covered the very first one, Killing Floor. My tolerance for violence and the grotesque is falling as I get older: not sure how much more of this I can absorb.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD: stop reading if you haven't watched the show, etc. I have some BIG issues with the final episode. Somehow each of our three heroes ends up squaring off against their nemesis: Conklin takes on and kills Grover Teale, the man who killed her mentor. Finlay squares off against his former good friend and corrupt FBI agent Picard (and kills him). And finally - and I do mean "finally," as this is the big final fight they show us last - Reacher throws down with KJ, the man who killed his brother. In the chaos in that warehouse, the likelihood of each hero lining up precisely with each villain is approximately nil, but it happened anyway.