Thursday, February 24, 2022


 The first thing the creators of the Amazon Prime series Reacher did right was to cast Alan Richson as Reacher. Not that Richson is the second coming of Laurence Olivier. He doesn’t need to be. He looks like Jack Reacher, facially and physically. No offense to Tom Cruise, who is a fine actor, but Lee Child’s books work because Jack Reacher carries an obvious level of physical intimidation with him. That requires someone who is at least close to Reacher’s description of 6’ 5” and 250 pounds. Wikipedia has Cruise as 5-7, and he's obviously not a millimeter taller. That nearly a foot is hard to make up.


I don’t mean to dismiss Richson as an actor. I’ve never seen him in anything else, and Reacher doesn’t stretch his range. He does the low-key banter well, as well as the deadpan humor. His speeches are a little robotic, but anyone who’d read the books knows Reacher doesn’t let out any more emotion than he has to. This may be how they’ve chosen to portray that.


What all Reacher Creatures want to know is how well the series captures the tone of the books. Rest easy. They nailed it. I’ve read several Reacher books and tend to look upon them as guilty pleasures. I don’t mean that as a pejorative, but let’s face it: Reacher is a superhero. You can’t read the books – or watch the show - and believe any of this could actually happen. That’s all right. We need a little escapism once in a while, and Child was smart enough to provide enough depth to Reacher’s character that one is never sorry to have spent time with him. He’s just not going to provoke existential discussions afterward.


The supporting cast is okay. The primary villain is a bit over the top, but for the most part everyone carries their water faithfully. The standout is Willa Fitzgerald as officer Roscoe Conklin. To paraphrase The Beloved Spouse™, Fitzgerald can be cute as a button and hard as nails almost simultaneously.


There are some iffy parts. Margrave, Georgia seems to have forensic capabilities Gil Grissom would be proud of. There is also a disconnect as to who Reacher should have trouble beating up, and who is a worthy adversary.


Those are quibbles. The producers didn’t set out to reinvent Deadwood or Braking Bad. It’s a 21st Century Western, where the lone stranger rides into town (albeit on a bus), get sweet on a local girl, kicks serious ass, sets things right, and rides off into the sunset. No one is going to teach college-level classes on the social relevancy of Reacher like those inspired by The Wire. That’s okay. The show knows what it is, and it does that very well. The world could use more of that attitude. I’m looking forward to Season 2.

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