In 1997 “Killing Floor” (“Dangerous Zone”) was published, the first installment of an extensive series of action novels written by the American Lee Child. Since then, and in an issue that reaches 26 installments, millions of readers have closely followed the story of Jack Reacher, the military veteran who stars in these stories.
Fifteen years after this first book, the story imagined by Child would be made into a film by director Christopher McQuarrie and starring none other than Tom Cruise. The detail of the chosen leading role is not minor. And it is that this media promoter of Scientology is, physically, different from the Jack Reacher created by Child: one barely reaches one meter and seventy centimeters tall and the other almost touches two meters.
Although certainly the film and its subsequent sequel were not blockbusters, to say then that the adaptations of this literary character were not enough for more would have been a mistake. This is demonstrated by “Reacher”, a series of eight episodes that Amazon Prime Video has just released, although this time starring an actor less awarded and famous than Cruise, but much closer to the physiognomy of the veteran who created Child: Alan Ritchson.
The return of the stocky white hero
For those who have not been able to read any of the books written by Lee Child, “Reacher” (adapted from “Killing Floor”) tells the story of Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson), a war veteran who arrives in Margrave, Georgia, for a unimportant recommendation. Suddenly, while he is eating an apple pie and drinking coffee, he is intervened by the police, who treat him as the main suspect in a cruel murder that occurred the night before.
Although our intention is not to focus on the portentous aspect of Reacher, it cannot be ignored that the appearance of this initially silent hero (for the first few minutes he simply does not speak) marks his way of interacting with almost all the characters in the series. Most of those who meet him for the first time underestimate him, linking his portentous appearance with a slowness or stupidity that as the minutes go by is completely distorted.
Between so many heroes and superheroes adapted to politically correct times, Alan Ritchson playing Jack Reacher is certainly a throwback to the old American model of the white, stocky and captivating hero.
Indeed, after making it clear that he had nothing to do with the murder, our protagonist will find himself involved in an unsought job: detective work. But he won’t do it alone. To do this, he must, first, approach the county police (Roscoe Conklin / Willa Fitzgerald) and, second, the area’s chief detective (Oscar Finlay / Malcolm Goodwin). With each of them he will cultivate a different bond, although remarkably honest (and in her case, even sexual).
During the eight episodes of the series, the town of Margrave will be shaken by a series of selective and quite cruel murders. In their quest to find clues, Detective Finley and Officer Roscoe gradually accept the help of Reacher, who quickly proves that he is not just a sack of testosterone and muscle mass, but a patient and imaginative investigator.
But it would be a mistake to say that the Prime Video series shows us only one giant succeeding in finding the clues of successive murders (which include his brother, that is). No prototype of a Marvel hero is free to use his well-crafted figure to deal blows left and right. And that’s one of the positive aspects of the series. To the meticulous work of Roscoe and Finlay is added a Reacher who uses his physical ability to beat up all the gangsters and corrupt people who come in front of him. To this should be added a more emotional element, inevitable in a series that does not seek to be classified as flat or gray. This production devised by Nick Santoro also has emotional moments. Throughout its eight episodes, Reacher will recall key moments from his childhood and also from his time as a soldier. In the first part we will see how he was raised in a serious and vertical family, while, in the second, it is clear where aspects such as his respect for the rules and his loyalty to his companions came from.
It is clear that “Reacher” does not seem destined to win big prizes. Reviewing it critically, it seems to be more of a series about good guys versus bad guys. Here the first ones have shown small layers that can be interesting in a second season (Fitzgerald and Goodwin have very good moments, but they are certainly overshadowed by Ritchson). About the seconds, the feeling is somewhat disappointing. Between so many police, corrupt officials, ‘rich kids’ and thugs, it is often unclear who is ‘the villain’ of this series. None of this, however, is a reason to stop watching an entertaining series.
Between so many heroes and superheroes adapted to politically correct times, Alan Ritchson playing Jack Reacher is certainly a throwback to the old American model of the white, stocky and captivating hero. And the first eight episodes of the series show that the decision was not a mistake at all.
Synopsis: When retired military cop Jack Reacher is arrested for a murder he didn’t commit, he finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy filled with crooked cops, shady businessmen, and scheming politicians. With nothing but his wits about him, he must find out what’s going on in Margrave, Georgia.
Original title: “reacher”
Duration: 8 chapters
Classification: +18 years
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