Brain and brawn

TV series

The British writer Lee Child has published more than forty novels and short stories starring Jack Reacher, a huge former US military police officer with a very peculiar code of conduct, who always ends up facing some criminal plot. It is a worldwide best-selling phenomenon, translated into fifty languages, and with hundreds of millions of sales.

The character was first brought to the big screen by director Christopher McQuarrie in 2012 in an entertaining film simply titled Jack Reacher and starring Tom Cruise. It was based on Lee’s ninth novel, One Shot (2005), one of the most successful of the series. But the choice of Cruise surprised more loyal readers, as he did not fit the physical description of the character, who is presented as a kind of giant, and we know that Cruise is not exactly tall or burly. The film worked, though, and a sequel was released in 2016, in this case based on the novel Never go back. The response was not so good, however, and the franchise was shelved.

Now the character returns in series form on Amazon Prime Video. The first season of Reacher consists of eight episodes and is an adaptation of the original novel, Killing Floor, published in 1997.

“One hundred thousand years ago there were people who stayed by the fire and people who wandered. I’m pretty sure I’m a direct descendant of the wandering type. I’m just who I am“, Reacher says at one point.

Retired from the army and deeply marked by military discipline, this tough, reserved giant wanders the country with no luggage, ties or plans. But things get complicated when, by chance, he ends up in the small town of Margrave, Georgia, where a murder has just taken place. A few hours after getting off the bus, Reacher is accused of committing the crime and put into prison.

When the evidence finally allows him to be released, Reacher ends up getting involved in the case, with the head detective of the police station and help from a young officer who has believed in his innocence from the beginning. Little by little, the three of them pull the strings of a plot that goes far beyond the initial homicide and involves corrupt local leaders and police, paid for by the most powerful family in town.

It’s a thriller that captures the spirit of the book, with Reacher’s character more accomplished than in the movies. Lead Alan Ritchson manages to convey the physical toughness of the literary character, but also his great deductive ability and peculiar sense of humour. After Tom Cruise’s cinematic mirage, Ritchson (who already excelled as the superhero Falcon in Titans) becomes the most believable Reacher for fans. To those not familiar with the character, he may seem a little exaggerated, but the series is one of unpretentious action and intrigue, and perhaps because of this, it works.

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