New Amazon Prime Series ‘Reacher’ Is A Well-Made Diversion


The new limited series Reacher on Amazon Prime is a great bit of pulp fiction. If you like the old Clint Eastwood movies, either the Dirty Harry or Man With No Name films, this eight-part series is for you. It is tough; there are more than a few killings and many realistic fights. We haven’t seen much like this in a long time. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed it so much.

It’s based on the Reacher series of books by Lee Child and it basically followed the premise of his first book, Killing Floor, quite well. As a result, there was tight plotting and many twists and turns, as well as well-crafted characters. Forget your regular cops and robbers shows where everything ends well in less than an hour. Here the complications, and deaths, keep coming.

Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) is a huge (6-foot-4) ex-army major from the military police who has been honorably discharged and now just wanders around the country. One day, in the town of Margrave, Georgia, he has walked in and gone to a diner where he is promptly arrested for murder. Within a short time, it is clear that he could not have done it, but is sent to prison along with a banker who has confessed. It was a setup to have them killed by a group of prisoners, but Reacher, in an incredible fight scene, beats all of them. He then teams up with the local police chief, Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin), a former Boston detective with a few past ghosts of his own, and young officer Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald… yes, Roscoe is female) to hunt down the killer.

Along the way, he finds out many of the town’s secrets, including quite a bit of corruption. The town’s mayor, Grover Teale (Bruce McGill), fires almost all the cops and takes over as interim chief to protect the bad guys. And heads are broken, people, both good and bad, die. Things do get a bit complicated for Reacher, but the show is done well enough that viewers can readily follow.

One issue that came up in making the series was the size of the lead. A few Reacher movies had already been made with Tom Cruise in the lead. Although a really fine actor, able to do his own stunts, he could not make up for the fact that at 5-foot-7, he was far too small to play a man so large and tough that people naturally backed away from him if they could manage it. Ritchson, however, is close to the right height and has all the requisite bulk to be quite believable when smacking whole groups of people.

Amazon Prime should be congratulated for the high technical quality of the series. While too many movies and series made for streaming look like they’ve been done by searching for ways to save money at the cost of artistic validity, these eight episodes (each with a different director) have great lighting, realistic sets and a large number of people, as required by the plot. In a series, even though limited to eight episodes, it makes viewing far easier.

The cast is also very good. Ritchson is quite believable in the part. Granted, Reacher is really stoic, but he carries it off nicely and is believable, even in the sections where there is no action. But when you have a lead who doesn’t change much emotionally, it means that the other actors have to change more as a contrast. Goodwin is exceptional. At first he seems like a possible villain, but soon we understand that he’s really a good guy, a caring cop, who is haunted by past actions. Fitzgerald is a wonder. She’s in a tricky part: first, suspicious cop, then sidekick, then romantic partner, then back to sidekick and hero. She is great. The always reliable McGill has a part that allows him to really let go and have some acting fun. I also liked Chris Webster as a key goon.

This was a really well-written series, which has already been renewed for another season. Since there are more than two dozen Reacher books, it could go one for a long time. As long as it stays well-written and acted, it will be great to watch. If you have Amazon Prime, don’t miss it!