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Posts Tagged ‘Streaming Series Review’

Reacher”  —  streaming (TV) series:  Season 1 (2022)
This review is for the recently released Amazon Prime video / movie / TV series titled:  “Reacher“.  The series is based on the book series by the same name written by Lee Child (James Dover Grant CBE).  The book series first started getting released in the late 1990’s and comes out about one volume per year – so, yes, there are now about twenty-plus books in the series.  I’ve read the first four and then skipped ahead for one of the books which explained some of the character’s background.  I’ve also seen both of the Tom Cruise movies in which Tom plays the lead.  I’ve done a review of the first (here), but never got around to reviewing the second (which I’ll probably need to re-watch before finally reviewing).
Anyway, the main character – Jack Reacher – is played by actor Alan Ritchson.  This is the first role I’ve seen Ritchson in.  Reacher is a retired Army officer who served in a “special investigations” unit.  Some sort of super JAG / NCIS.  They only worked cases no one else could handle – blah, blah, blah.  Reacher comes from a military family, graduated from West Point (as did his older brother), and served with distinction during his career. Reacher retired as a major; a rank he regained after being busted back down to captain.  The series history differs from the books as over twenty years has passed since the first novel, so they’ve “re-booted” his life to make him younger for the series.  It’s also possible the character got an early-out / medical discharge as he doesn’t seem old enough to have graduated from the Military Academy and served a full twenty years of service for a “normal” retirement.  In real life, Ritchson is 37 years old, (although he looks younger to me) so I guess it’s possible.  Reacher is an expert with multiple firearms, hand to hand combat and has a photographic memory.  He is also given to sarcasm.
Reacher has no “social-media presence”, no driver’s license, no phone, no permanent address, no ID and no bags.  He has a passport, a couple of hundred dollars in cash and the clothes on his back.  He buys used clothes when he needs to change and tosses what he’s done with.  Reacher likes old-fashioned blues, so he decides to visit the home town of a famous blues musician (which his brother mentioned).  The night before he arrives in the town, the murders start…  Reacher is the only stranger in town and he walked into town on the same road near where the body was found.  He is arrested and off we go…
The series is a thriller / crime / action series loosely based on a bigger than life (6ft 5in) paladin who roams around the country with no ties, just trying to mind his own business and bring a form of “rough” justice to the world when he feels it’s needed.
So:  is the series any good?  Is it true to the books?  Is it better than the (two) movies?  Is the acting / dialogue any good?  Yes, pretty close, so-so and yes.  The season-series is broken down into eight episodes of roughly 50 minutes each, so you’re investing almost 6-7 hours which gives a lot more time to tell the story (book).  The fights are pretty well shot (choreography wise).  Given the lead character’s physical size, most of the fights involve multiple attackers / combatants – again, true to the book.  I found the series marginally better than the two Cruise movies.  I didn’t think the acting was much better, but I found the inter-personal dialogue to be better – particularly the lead’s sarcasm.
The books are good to very good.  Cruise’s two movies were entertaining action movies, but nothing to write home about.  Ritchson simply makes a better Reacher than Cruise does physically (not in acting, though).  Cruise is (maybe) 5ft 7in;  Ritchson is (maybe) 6ft 2in in real life.  Reacher claims to be 6ft 4in in the series.  He’s supposed to be 6ft 5in in the books.  In a funny (strange) way, although height was the biggest complaint about casting Cruise in the movies, it doesn’t seem to be a factor for Ritchson.  The problem remains:  a “BIG” lead requires more than a shorter cast and the sets just don’t deliver / convey the size of the lead character.
Final recommendation:  very good to strong recommendation.  If you are a fan of the books, you will almost certainly enjoy this series more than Cruise’s two movies.  If you are a fan of action / crime-thriller / vigilante genre (again), you will almost certainly enjoy this series.  Note:  There is some profanity and some brief nudity in a few of the episodes.  There is quite a bit of violence / bloody injuries across all of the episodes, but I’d put it closer to “Die Hard” style than to “John Wick” style.  The series is NOT appropriate for young teens or pre-teens (IMHO).
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