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Reacher Review: Fan Service Done Right, Finally

Reacher
Lee Child’s iconic wanderer slash detective Jack Reacher finally has a full-fledged series plus an actor who fits the author’s character description, and as a fan of the two, one couldn’t be happier. If you have read even one of Child’s Jack Reacher novels, you’d know how long overdue a course-corrected casting for its visual adaptations was. But even beyond its casting, the series manages a decent job at fan service.

Developed by Nick Santora, Reacher Season 1 is adapted from Child’s debutant Jack Reacher novel Killing Floor, which came out almost 25 years ago. Santora makes the practical decision to update the setting and base the premise in the current time – with mentions of Facebook, Instagram, etc. Apart from the setting, there are a couple of tweaks here and there made to the original story, which by now we know, any ardent book fan must brace themselves for when viewing an adaptation. But hey, we are here for a display of brute force and the guilty catharsis that one gets from watching or reading about Reacher beating the hell out of bad guys, and as long as you keep your expectations limited to that, you are in for a treat.

About Reacher Season 1

Here we are introduced to an ex-military police investigator who wanders around the United States with practically zero possessions. As Reacher sets foot in a small but too-polished-to-be-true town of Margrave in Georgia, he is swiftly arrested for murder. As bodies keep piling on, Reacher develops a personal connection to the incidences and is now determined to avenge the death of a relative. He is aided in the process by the chief detective and an officer of the local police force.


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If you have read Killing Floor, you’d know that the novel was highly focused on positioning Reacher as this giant man with a strange lifestyle and a strong sense of right and wrong. Reacher’s sensibilities and lifestyle might seem impractical and thus unrelatable to many. What kind of guy has no social media presence in this day and age? How do you even survive without a smartphone or credit card? So the character only works for those who suspend their disbelief and buy into Child’s vision, and the same goes for the web series.

Why everyone is fussing so much over Alan Ritchson’s casting

Here’s what you need to know about Jack Reacher – He is six feet five inches, bulky and too big for most public places. Reacher doesn’t fight fair, because for him it is all about survival. This means he will start a fight without warning, gouch eyes, kick an opponent’s private parts and basically hurt a person to leave them incapable of hurting him.

Now imagine the disappointment his fans must have felt when a wiry Tom Cruise was cast as Jack Reacher. Did the makers even read the first page of any of Child’s books? That is why Ritchon’s casting as Jack Reacher is creating so much noise – he fits the bill and how. Ritchson is everything Cruise was not and while Reacher’s part does not require him to display Hamilton-level acting chops, he does get the character’s menace and coolness right.

What does irritate the viewer is the constant emphasis on how big Reacher is. We get it, he is tall and beefy- we can see him, so we do not need constant reminders about his build.


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Women in Reacher

One of my only problems with Reacher was the amounts of breasts on display in the series. While Reacher’s character seems to be set to the default setting of seeing himself as protector of women (we will get to that later) it seems odd that we are made to see breasts of almost all major female characters, which was frankly unnecessary.

Child’s Jack Reacher is always on the move, and with that the author sets him up to have a new female partner in every book. In his works the portrayal of women is a mixed bag- they are victims of crime who are avenged or rescued by Reacher, they are strong-minded police officers and former colleagues turned private investigators who have Reacher’s back and in some books, they are evil masterminds whose ruthlessness will make your blood curdle. Basically, Child challenges the stereotypes against women but also plays by them and that holds true for this new web series too.

So we have actor Willa Fitzgerald as officer Roscoe Conklin who schools Reacher for being condescending and not respecting her abilities as a policewoman. Then we have Maria Sten as military investigator turned private detective Francis Neagley- much loved by the readers of Lee Child books, as a woman who doesn’t like being touched and can stand for any woman who is being mistreated without any help from her bulky companion. But we also have a missing banker’s wife and two little girls whom Reacher must protect from violent men. And despite multiple warnings from Conklin, Reacher cannot stop himself from going after a local young rich guy who harasses her.

Reacher is at best a binge-worthy action thriller that doesn’t need to get distracted much from its central character’s stunning presence and personality. If you are looking for some popcorn entertainment and derive pleasure from seeing a giant man brutally beating up a bunch of bad guys, then this can be your go-to series.

Views expressed are the author’s own.

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