Full of action, violence and comedy, Reacher takes the story back to its roots by opting to convey the events from the founding novel in what became Lee Child’s international hit; The Killing Floor. The show stars Alan Ritchson (Titans, Ghosts of War, TMNT 2014) as the titular character, with Willa Fitzgerald (Beach House, Dare Me, Blood Money) and Malcolm Goodwin (iZombie, Mississippi Damned, The Lazarus Project) co-starring as Roscoe and Detective Finlay respectively.
Adapting the founding novel works in the series’ favour as it prevents the show from being comparable to previous screen renditions. The show start from the beginning means a fresh start, assuring audiences that no prior knowledge of the character is necessary in order to enjoy this show. The clean slate also provides the show with the opportunity to potentially adapt a lot, if not all, of the novels in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. This would be a realistic and smart move judging from the overwhelmingly positive support garnered by the show’s premier season.
The narrative provides a balanced mix of action, violence, comedy, meaningful moments, along with an intricate and layered plot fitting, and essential, to this type of narrative. It is clear from the amount of detail in the story, that a lot of passion and care went into the filmmaking process in order to effectively transfer the story from page to screen. Watching the mystery unfold, revealing how everything, and everyone, was connected is a rewarding experience that houses some big secrets along the way.
The Sherlock Holmes style deduction used by Reacher makes for some very memorable moments, often at the expense of the individual he is embarrassing by using it, and it is always very interesting to see whether his deductions are correct and enables the audience to predict events alongside him. Having the last scene of the series mirror the first is also an excellent touch. The opening credits are very reminiscent of that of the animated series Invincible, based off of comics of the same name.
The cinematography is commendable in the series. The utilisation of framing as an important storytelling technique in some instances allows for endless analysis of the meaning behind the director’s filmic choices. Colour grading and lighting as a whole allow the story to come alive and present an effective split between sequences of past and present. Warm hues are used to present the dreamlike sequences of the Jack’s childhood, depicting it as somewhat sheltered and idyllic despite the events shown.
In stark contrast, cold blue hues are commonly used to present the harsh and brutal reality of the present day, complimenting the show’s bravery in not shying away from conveying the intimidating and overly brutal force of Jack Reacher and all his bloody and gruesome skills.
A stand out for the show is it’s fight choreography which births a number of memorable and important moments across the eight episodes. The prison fight is a contender for most memorable in the series, due in part to it being one of the first introductions to Jack Reacher’s skills as a fighter. Another standout of the series is how Reacher has the ability to be intimidating and convey emotion without dialogue. An example of this is fact he doesn’t utter a word for nearly the first seven minutes of episode one, giving the audience an exclusively visual introduction to the character. This element is somewhat lost as the series advances however this is still callbacks to, and instances of, him only talking when he wants to that ensure the matter doesn’t feel forgotten or out of place.
The characters are a definite highlight of the show as they are very well written, providing growth for the main roster throughout their journey. Although a tad predictable, it is very interesting to see how Reacher’s and Roscoe’s relationship develops, causing the pair to open up more about their past which of course leads to elements of the puzzle being solved or someone else getting beaten out of existence. But ultimately it is nice to see how Reacher learns to open up to people in general, reflective of his dialogue quantity from start to finish.
Another nice element to see is how Reacher and Finlay learn to respect each other, providing a few comedic moments sprinkled throughout the eight episodes. Finlay’s and Roscoe’s individual character growth is also an appreciated and well thought out component that adds an element of realism to the story being told. Alan Ritchson does a great job of conveying every emotion while remain in a state that fits the audience’s preconceptions of the character. Watching how Reacher interacted with members of his family and other allies also made for some memorable moments.
An aspect that has to be mentioned is the amazing soundtrack utilised throughout, which really helps to signify the pace and beats of the film. The catchy, recognisable tracks add a contrapuntal, and familiar, aspect to the fight scenes, along with other key moments from the story. The soundtrack fit the tone and pace of the series perfectly. There is also a lot of really memorable quotations throughout the series that prove just how well it was written. One such example is, “I’m not a ventriloquist, get off my lap” which perfectly sums up the attitude of the titular character. It is also worth noting that, both in regards to height and muscle mass, this version of the character is more accurate to the novels than Tom Cruise’s rendition of the character.
Overall this acts as a very strong and well rounded first season of what I’m sure will become an incredibly popular show. With violence, memorable characters, comedy, twists, turns, and even a cameo from Lee Child himself, the series manages to execute a near perfect first season, showcasing the abilities of the talented people involved. Fans of the novels and past renditions are sure to enjoy this series, while it can also be appreciated by the wider community of action and adventure/thriller fans due to the sheer amount of passion and dedication that went into this product.
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