Amazon’s ‘Reacher’ is a hit and miss among fans

By Juan Calvillo

Amazon Studios “Reacher’’ is intriguing, action-heavy and fun, but doesn’t deliver an ending worthy of its main character.
While this review focuses on the Amazon television series, there will be slight comparisons to the books from where the story for the series comes from.
The eight-episode first season of “Reacher,” season two of “Reacher” has already been greenlit, uses the story of the first novel in the Jack Reacher books series titled “Killing Floor.” The books are written by Lee Child, while the television series was developed by Nick Santora.
Following the threads of the book “Killing Floor,” the television series delves into both Reacher’s connection to his family and an interesting scheme involving money and corruption.
The main story takes off with the death of a federal agent and subsequent case that is left hanging.
Reacher comes into town looking for some live jazz music and is quickly embroiled in finding out what is going on in the supposed sleepy town of Margrave.
Fights with local police, a crooked big business tycoon and a budding romance put Reacher’s main characters through the wringer.
Luckily, action set pieces like a warehouse gun fight and some interesting story contrivances make the episodes clip at an entertaining pace.
Reacher, played by Alan Ritchson, is everything fans of the books thought was wrong with the movie version played by Tom Cruise.
Reacher is described as a large man and Ritchson fits the bill perfectly. Watching Ritchson, whose other credits include playing Hawk in the HBOMAX series “Titans” among others, manhandle bad guys is part of the fun of this series. Ritchson is a capable actor, but is great at playing the smug, confident type of character.
There are moments in the show where the veneer of assuredness slowly fades on Reacher and Ritchson shows the change subtly.
Those moments are his best acting pieces in the show. At first glance they seem lackluster, but as the series progresses and more of the characters’ backstory is revealed, the scenes make perfect sense.
The show asks for the suspension of disbelief early on when it comes to the abilities of Reacher. The character may seem like Captain America, but it’s shown early and often that Reacher dispenses justice with lethal precision, emphasis on lethal.
The rest of the ensemble includes a confident local cop and the chief detective of the town. Local cop Roscoe Conklin, played by Willa Fitzgerald, has a no-nonsense-attitude that couples interestingly with her ability to empathize and care for people.
Chief detective Oscar Finlay, played by Malcolm Goodwin, is an uptight, by the book cop trying to keep his town from becoming a warzone.
Goodwin is the standout of the good guys in the series. His ability to act straight-laced on the surface and have the simmering anger of a thousand white hot suns is beyond cool.
Goodwin is more than capable of playing both a tough cop and a caring friend or introspective conflicted husband. It’s a bit sad that Fitzgerald was not given more to work with for the series. Her character is said to be a tough cop, and, in more than one scene, she dispatches foes with killer instinct, but in the end, the damsel in distress cliché pops up with her in the starring role.
While the action and fights are interesting, it’s the end of the series that is lackluster, mainly due to the boring and stale villains that are put up against Reacher and company. The most interesting of them is Mayor Grover Teale, played by veteran actor Bruce McGill.
Thankfully McGill’s acting prowess allows him to play up the villainous mayor angle well. The unfortunate part is that none of the other bad guys really make an impact. While characters like KJ, played by Chris Webster, are creepy, there is no real standout among the antagonists. This is why the ending leaves much to be desired.
There is a resolution, but if the bad guys don’t mean anything to the viewer, what’s the point.
“Reacher” is streaming now on Amazon Prime and is an Amazon Studios production.
The show has great action, an intriguing mystery and a couple of fun twists. The ending is the weakest link in this new series.
“Reacher” is rated TV-MA for nudity, violence, gore, profanity, drugs, alcohol, and smoking use and frightening and intense scenes.

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