REACHER Season 1 Review; "Alan Ritchson Proves Himself One Of TV's Toughest Leading Men"

Reacher is set to be released on Amazon Prime Video starting February 4, and we're now sharing our spoiler-free verdict on all eight episodes of this adaptation of Lee Child's hit series of novels...

While Tom Cruise certainly has his fair share of action movie credentials, the decision to cast the then 49-year-old actor as Lee Child’s 6’5” literary powerhouse in 2012’s Jack Reacher baffled many of the author’s fans. The movie was decent enough, but a mostly forgettable sequel saw the franchise fall by the wayside. Now, though, following the success of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Amazon has turned its attention to another hit series of novels with Reacher, an eight-episode adaptation of Child’s Killing Floor. Serving as a sensational reintroduction for the iconic character, the series is a gripping, no-holds-barred action thriller with a star-making performance from lead Alan Ritchson. 

The actor has been on our radar for a long time (many of you may still remember him best as Smallville’s Aquaman), but after landing lead roles in everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Titans, it’s Reacher where Ritchson is really given the opportunity to shine as this stoic drifter with a mysterious past. Towering over every single other actor in the series, he looks believably formidable and makes it easy to buy into what an unstoppable force Jack is throughout the series. However, Ritchson does more than deliver a one-note performance here, often showing a vulnerable, more thoughtful side, all while effortlessly capturing Reacher’s quirky nature in unexpectedly fun ways. He also exudes an aura of strength that makes the awe in which he’s viewed by those around him - whether it’s while he walks down the street or lays waste to a whole group of enemies - not remotely hard to feel while watching at home. With Reacher, Ritchson puts himself on the map in a role we hope he’ll continue to play for years to come. 

Reacher boasts a strong supporting cast, with memorable turns from Malcolm Goodwin, Chris Webster, Maria Sten, and Kristin Kreuk among others, but it’s Willa Fitzgerald who arguably impresses most as the show’s female lead. Very much on a par with Ritchson, her charming exterior is soon pushed aside to reveal a tough as nails small-town cop who it’s a genuine delight to spend time with regardless of whether she’s by Reacher’s side. With Goodwin, she and Ritchson make for a superb trio and share a chemistry that develops quickly and leaves you wanting more. 
 


When we find Reacher in this series, the veteran military police investigator has just recently entered civilian life and is wandering from town to town. The circumstances that lead to him being embroiled in the show’s central conspiracy occasionally feel a little contrived, and the series making it so personal for him both enhances the story in places and proves a detriment in others. That aside, when things do pick up, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s playing out thanks to some big twists, a lot of admittedly familiar whodunnit trappings, and Reacher’s unique approach to working out what’s going on. Showrunner and writer Nick Santora has definitely managed to deliver a strong premise here, though there are a few creative decisions that could be improved upon in future seasons. Flashbacks fleshing out Reacher’s past are certainly welcomed, but are so sporadic throughout the course of these eight episodes that they quickly lose their impact and become more of a distraction than anything else. Still, it’s a minor complaint, and if you’re looking for a show that’s going to keep you hooked from start to finish, then this is the series for you. 

Reacher also tackles racism in a meaningful manner that enhances the story rather than feeling like a for-the-sake-of-it add on. There are a few surprisingly lofty themes here, and the show handles them all well, including sexism, small-town corruption, and grief. Like Child's books, the show is more than just non-stop action and is all the better for it. 

Of course, a conspiracy storyline is all well and good, but the action is what many viewers will be tuning in for. Thankfully, Reacher doesn’t disappoint in that respect. Fistfights are hard-hitting, often very bloody affairs, while shootouts are similarly exciting, making for edge of your seat viewing even when you know this isn’t where Reacher is going to meet his maker. The fights do fall slightly short of matching those in movies like Extraction and the Bourne franchise, for example, but whether it’s a prison brawl or a surprisingly violent fight in an alleyway, Reacher makes its mark and ensures this character feels vastly more formidable than the 5’7” version played by Cruise. Hell, Ritchson’s Reacher would eat him for dinner. 

Alan Ritchson proves himself one of TV’s toughest leading men in Reacher, an exciting, action-packed conspiracy thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat, even amidst a few familiar genre trappings. 
 

IF

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