Amazon Prime’s newest television adaptation should be familiar to dads and other airport novel readers everywhere. Reacher (2022) adapts the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, featuring a former Army veteran who drifts from town to town like the Incredible Hulk, solving murders and mostly just making things more difficult for civil servants trying to follow due process. You likely saw Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher (2012), which adapted a different Lee Child book and is one of my favorite showcases of Pittsburgh as a movie location.


1. Alan Ritchson is an intimidating Jack Reacher.

You may recognize Ritchson as Aquaman from Smallville or Thad from Blue Mountain State. He’s six-two and wide as a doorframe, befitting one of the all-time Mary Sues of literature (Lee Child’s Reacher is six-five and smarter than Sherlock Holmes; women lose their minds when they see him; men cower in fear; he’s always two steps ahead of everyone at everything). Ritchson exudes menace and rigid morality, making for the rare protagonist who is simultaneously smarter than everyone else in the room and also laugably dumb in his leaps of logic. He is also great in the show’s many fistfights, in which his height, reach, elbows, and forehead are used to bone-crunching effect. That’s a perfect Lee Child adaptation to these eyes.


2. “I’m going to break three people’s hands.” “There are four of us.” “One will have to drive the rest of you to the hospital.”

If that made you laugh, got you pumped, or made you roll your eyes, then the show is for you. This show’s per-minute amount of ham is audacious. When Bruce McGill isn’t among the top five ham delivery vehicles in a show, you know you are in for a wild ride.

This show is so committed to its ham that Reacher’s parents address him as Reacher as a child in the show’s many flashbacks. In a house full of Reachers, he is crowned the top Reacher as a twelve-year-old.


3. Speaking of Bruce McGill, Reacher has a great cast.

I knew Willa Fitzgerald (Roscoe Conklin) as the daughter of the Mormon Senator in Alpha House, and only knew Malcolm Goodwin as the main detective from the crummy, crummy iZombie tv series. Both are quite fun in this show. I already mentioned Ritchson and his performance as Reacher, but I want to reiterate that he is well cast, with the perfect amount of meathead comedy chops. Harvey Guillén (GUILLERMO!) shows up as the forensic pathologist and famous TV face Currie Graham is the loathsome rich guy. Lara Jean Chorostecki, who made a mess of things on Hannibal as tabloid blogger Freddie Lounds, is underused here as the doomed lover of Reacher’s brother.


4. If you view Reacher as a con man, the show makes more sense.

In this show, Jack Reacher enters the town of Margrave and is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. He quickly joins the police department’s investigation and obstructs it every step of the way. This audacity gets him a place to stay, a wad of cash, several new outfits, a Desert Eagle pistol, free meals, a quick lay, and access to a Jaguar SUV (which is destroyed), a Bentley sedan (which… you get the picture), and a 1987ish Plymouth Voyager van.

None of his actions would remotely benefit a proper (meaning “constitutional” or “legal”) investigation of the murders, and stirring up the hornet’s nest gets people killed who otherwise would be alive. Further, the Feds were already investigating the counterfeiting scheme and would have caught up to the villains in time. Reacher don’t care. He enacted justice… and incidentally lived off of the goodwill of others for a few weeks. Nice work if you can get it.


5. Reacher works… until it doesn’t.

I found myself compelled by the first three-and-a-half episodes and watched them all in a sitting. Then the end of episode 4 occurred… and then even worse, episodes 5 and 6 followed it. Reacher steamrolls the police of Margrave and his perverse logic holds up for a little while. Sure, don’t reveal information to the Mayor-slash-Sheriff or anyone else suspicious. That is fine. But then we get dead federal agents and international conspiracies, so the strategy of “we cannot tell any other law enforcement about this no matter what” is dumb. You can’t punch an international cartel, Reacher.

The bad guys are too obviously the bad guys given how slow the show is in revealing them. Reacher suffers from the same flab as did the Netflix Marvel shows and Bosh. This could have been a single movie or at most a three-episode miniseries. Eight episodes means too much tire-spinning and Reachersplaining.



Reacher is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

5 Thoughts on… is a quick dispatch on topics that might not otherwise be covered in our normal features.