Reacher review: Tom who? Lee Child’s vigilante with a heart finally gets a live-action version worthy of his name

How do you feel about reacherthe eight episode series telling the story of Lee Child’s vigilante with a heart almost as big as his ham-like fists, can probably be determined by your feelings on the deaths of innocent bystanders in pop culture.

Growing up I remember a lot of outraged tabloid headlines about high body counts in action movies and, compared to those days when Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone might cut through dozens of people while wisecracking with an Uzi, I feel like modern TV and film takes a more measured approach.

But if you’re not familiar with Jack Reacher it’s probably important to know he’s not really a ‘measured’ sort.

When, early on in the new Amazon Prime series, our eponymous hero says after a brutal atrocity that he’s going to ‘track everyone responsible down and kill them all’ he’s not messing around.

It’s a testament to Child’s writing that somehow you can get past that and see a man who’s more hero than psychopath, even with a frankly startling number of bodies in his wake.

Jack Reacher, is a veteran military police investigator newly finding his feet back on civic street.

He gets off a bus in the small town of Margrave, Georgia and is immediately arrested on suspicion of murder.

So now he’s got to stay – to prove he hasn’t done it and then, in classic Reacher style, to systematically hunt down the real perpetrators, like a shed-sized Sherlock Holmes, and bring them his own brand of justice – mostly with his fists and a series of improvised weapons.

Smallville’s Alan Ritchson is our chiselled hero.

Forget Tom Cruise’s celluloid Reacher – too short and too chatty by far – Ritchson’s incarnation is a man who looks like a thoughtful yet angry bear, says little and hits people lots.

His performance is fantastic – you see a little twitch in the jaw or a narrowing of the eyes when he gets annoyed but most of the time he is just confidently stoic in the way anyone who knows and loves this character would expect and hope him to be .

Meanwhile, the two small-town cops he ends up teaming up with to unravel the mystery at the center of the season, Willa Fitzgerald’s Roscoe and Malcolm Goodwin’s Finlay, are both also excellent, with the chemistry between the three as loyalties change and the characters. get to know each other very fun to watch.

If you’ve read any of Child’s novels (this one adapts the first one, KillingFloor) then you know that the plot moves quickly, the body count racks up and you just have to embrace the odd bit of character stupidity or incredible coincidence that helps keep everything careering along to a bombastic (and often literally explosive) conclusion.

If these things bother you then Reacher – whether on screen or page – isn’t for you, but if you’re ok with that you are in for a fun ride.

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If the early excruciatingly limping episodes of The Book of Boba Fett left you wondering if there was paint somewhere you needed to watch dry then Reacher is the antidote and TV joy you need.

It also, somewhat surreally, has a similar ‘stranger comes to a strange and corrupt town, fighting dreams’ vibe – although with notably less rancors.

I don’t like filler episodes. I don’t like slow burns where the emphasis is on the slow.

So Reacher is gloriously, happily refreshing – and I’m seemingly not the only one to think so.

Amazon confirmed a season 2 within 24 hours of the show launching worldwide and it’s currently deservingly sitting at the top of the Prime UK streaming chart.

This good-humoured, occasionally gory, tongue-in-cheek rendering of one of pop-culture’s most underrated vigilantes is a must watch.

* Reacher season one is available now to stream in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video. You can watch it free with a month’s trial of the service here.

The Reviews Club

Narin Flanders is one of The Review Club’s expert reviewers.

The Reviews Club brings together the UK’s biggest experts to review products and services in an honest and in-depth manner.

She specializes in toys, books and all things geeky – from tech and gaming (both board games and consoles) to comics, TV and film.

You can find her over on @nkflanders where she’s likely to be up for a chat about any of her reviews – in between discussing whatever she’s streaming this week.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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