In 1997 British author, Lee Child (a pseudonym for James Dover Grant), published his first novel, Killing Floor. The thriller introduced audiences to the 6'5" tall, ex-military police officer, Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson; Titans). Reacher is a loner and a drifter who travels light and is more observant than one might think. Built like a bull, he can be hot-tempered and like John Wick, could probably kill someone with nothing more than a pencil. In 2012 and again in 2016, the character of Jack Reacher was brought to the big screen and portrayed by Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible franchise). This week Amazon Prime Video will debut a limited television series, Reacher, with Ritchson in the titular role.
One day while eating at a local restaurant in Florida, Jack Reacher hears a song by the late, Blues Musician, Blind Blake and it reminds him how, years earlier, his brother, Joe told him that Blind Blake died in Margrave, Georgia. On a whim, Reacher jumps on a greyhound bus and finds himself there. Why he is drawn to Margrave is a mystery, even to him, but from the moment Reacher arrives, he ends up in police custody and is charged with a murder he didn't commit. As the bodies begin to pile up, it is obvious something sinister is going on and Reacher ends up helping to investigate the murders and the townspeople of Margrave.
Broken into eight, one-hour-long episodes, Reacher is a series of crests and troughs culminating, much like a ship on the ocean, at a destination far from its original launch point. The first episode begins slowly, emphasized by the fact that the Reacher doesn't utter a word for the first six minutes of the episode. This, of course, is meant to stress the fact that Reacher is a loner and an observer. When he finally does speak, however, he is like Sherlock Holmes, deducing hypotheses and extrapolating facts to create a whole picture of the places and people around him.
Ritchson may not initially seem like the obvious choice to play the lead role, especially since Cruise is still in the back of everyone's minds as Jack Reacher, but he is excellent. Besides, matching the physical characteristics of how Reacher is described in the novels, he can intimidate almost anyone by doing nothing more than staring at them. His serious demeanor and piercing eyes give him an ominous aura and a dangerous appeal. Despite these traits, he can also melt hearts by being sensitive and caring, even to a neglected dog left out in the yard.
Besides Ritchson, the producers hired terrific actors whose interactions with Ritchson make for some excellent scenes. Malcolm Goodwin (iZombie) transforms into the Harvard educated, Boston PD transplant, Margrave Chief investigator who is obviously an outsider and does nothing to fit in in his new hometown. Bruce McGill (My Cousin Vinny) often portrays the antagonist and does so once again as the crooked Mayor Teale. However, the standout is Willa Fitzgerald (Blood Money) as Deputy Roscoe Conklin, the local who seems so sweet but who is very intelligent and could probably take down someone twice her size without blinking an eye. She and Ritchson have immediate chemistry and mutual respect that reaches out and grabs the viewer, drawing them into the sinister world whirling in Margrave.
Whether you have read the books or not and regardless of if you liked the movies starring Tom Cruise, Amazon Prime Video's Reacher is a slow burn that is worth the eight hours of viewing (binge-watching or a week at a time). This is a great cast with writers who have excellent source material to work from and quality production values.
Give it at least two episodes and I promise you will be hooked!