Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson), a 6 feet 5 inches tall monster of a man walks into Margrave, Georgia on a day when the town has witnessed its first recorded murder in years. As Reacher sits down to enjoy the delicious and famous peach pie of the place, he is arrested by the police on suspicion of having committed the said murder. He is interrogated by chief detective Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin) who not only realizes that Reacher is not the murderer but also understands that he might be the best person to help him establish a link between the murderer and a man who has just confessed to the murder but has certainly not committed the crime. Thus begins a cat and mouse game that not only tests Reacher’s intellect and physical prowess but also breaks through the impenetrable shell that he has put up to keep every soul at a distance from his emotional core.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first Jack Reacher film with Tom Cruise in the titular role. Cruise’s second outing though was forgettable. Ever since I have come across numerous articles and updates were avid readers of the Lee Child books have gone on to criticize the makers of the films for casting Tom Cruise as Reacher. According to them, Reacher was a 6 feet-plus entity who was brutishly physical and unhinged in his overpowering of his enemies. The makers of this series most definitely took cognizance of those criticisms and cast an actor who is every bit what the fans wanted their copybook Reacher to be.

I had a bitter-sweet experience with the series. The physical action and the protagonist of the series are terrific. Alan Ritchson has this unique quality of being monstrously large and intimidating but also a degree of finesse in his appearance and mannerisms that make him look and feel look genuine when he is mouthing out long unbroken sentences quoting data and facts and arriving at calculated deductions. Someone who is as physical as he is; Generally feels out of place saying intelligent things or making calculated decisions. That is an interesting aspect of Lee Child’s Reacher. He is someone who is extremely physical in the action sequences but is essentially a police detective who has an eye for details and is lightning fast in his decision-making and understanding of situations, people, and crimes that have already been committed. Alan Ritchson nailed both the aspects of the character and he also added an odd and personal charm of his to the character that was likable and quickly made the character endearing.  

The action of the series is scintillating. The first few hand-to-hand action sequences, two of which happen inside a jail are some of the most brutal and in-your-face actions that I have seen in a while. Reacher always makes a threat before he goes all out on his victims and whatever threats he makes, he delivers on them. The way he butchers his victims is a sight to behold. The fact that he is so huge only makes the action sequence feel that much more overbearing when such a giant is seen pummeling through hordes of falling bodies. Sadly, after the initial flourish, the series has very few genuine hand-to-hand combats. This fact consistently frustrated me as I waited for the next Reacher mayhem but never got one until the very end.

The ensemble cast of the series is great. I particularly loved the performance of Willa Fitzgerald, who plays a cop who aides Reacher and Finlay in their hunt for the murderer. She is the exact opposite of Reacher in terms of physicality and yet she feels every bit as imposing and threatening as Reacher.

Her camaraderie with Reacher felt real and it was developed in a manner that made a lot of sense. She was integral to the plot and was not some prop that was there just for the eye candy. Willa justified her meaty role with a performance that was endlessly entertaining, intriguing, and absorbing. I loved the subtle romance that was brewing between the two. Willa captivated my imagination not only with her performance and physicality wherein she matched some of the guys twice her size but also with her unique beauty and unconventional charm.

Malcolm Goodwin as Detective Finlay was terrific. He starts off by hating Reacher. As we proceed through the series, Finaly’s contempt for the man only increases but that doesn’t stop him from understanding and valuing Reacher for the unique set of skills that he brings to the table. By the end of it all, he is able to see himself in a different light because of the turmoil and the life-threatening challenges that he has to go through in the series. All these nuances of the character are beautifully captured and rendered by Malcolm Goodwin.

In a series that is 8 episodes long and each episode is more than 45 minutes in runtime, the story had to have meat and the twists and turns had to be there to keep the audiences engaged. Sadly this is one aspect of the series that it fails in and for this, the writer will have to take the blame. The story is decent and the thrill element is present but it is too few and too far apart for the liking. I felt as if the series lost its steam somewhere in the middle as the pacing considerably suffered. Maybe the book was just not meaty enough to feel breezy when rendered into an elaborate series having a whooping runtime.

The biggest issue that I had with the series was the final reveal of the real antagonist. I keep repeating this in every other review. A series or film of this nature can only be as good as its protagonist and antagonist. While Reacher boasts of a splendid protagonist, its antagonist is weak, cliché, and flimsy. I didn’t even like the performance of the actor who played the character as he neither looked nor felt like someone who could do the things that he is shown doing. I couldn’t believe my eyes that the makers didn’t substitute the character with some other innovative character or at least added a few additional antagonists to atleast give Reacher a run for his money. The ease with which Reacher wins it all, in the end, marred the fun of the series for me to a great extent. I also have to add that even though I hadn’t read the book, I could predict every twist and turn of the series. That is never a good thing for a series of this nature as a lot of fun of a thriller lies in its surprises.

Having said all that, Reacher is still a fairly entertaining watch that is propelled by its ensemble cast but somewhat let down by its storytelling and screenplay when that should have been its forte. Maybe they should have picked a better story or atleast one that rendered better for the screen than this one. The series is still worth watching because of its action and performances.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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