Like an ’80s action film, Reacher is no-frills fun

May 01, 2022

Much like a wide-eyed Boris Yeltsin staring at endless grocery store shelves for the first time in America, anyone looking for entertainment is now inundated with an endless stream of options. Just to name a few, there’s Disney, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Acorn, and HBO — and they all have their own original shows, many of which either spew woke platitudes or leave you feeling like your time could have been better spent watching CNN+.

Amazon Prime’s Reacher, which premiered earlier this year, does neither. The latest adaptation of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels stars Alan Ritchson as the titular hero. Taking the reins from Tom Cruise, Ritchson restores Reacher’s hulking image; in his books, Child describes Reacher as having hands the size of dinner plates.

Towering over everyone in his orbit, Ritchson’s Reacher, despite his feral build, carries a disarming charm. He’s like a yoked Columbo who traded in his trench coat for a muscle shirt, and he’s equally apathetic toward his clothes or any luxuries. Everything is functional: “I don’t need anything that fancy, just T-shirt and jeans.”

In the new series’s debut season, the retired military officer saunters into Margrave, the sort of quaint, small American town you’d hear about in a John Mellencamp song. After he’s wrongly arrested following a murder, Reacher finds himself at the epicenter of a conspiracy involving corrupt police officers and politicians.

Quickly realizing the officer and the chief detective who put him behind bars are the only honest badges in the precinct, he insists on helping uncover the root of the corruption. Even though Reacher working with two police officers feels like an NBA all-star playing basketball with high schoolers, they share great chemistry.

Reacher is shot and paced like an ’80s action film. It wholeheartedly embraces that Die Hard, Lethal Weapon ’80s aesthetic. The supporting characters are your typical tropes: The chief detective, Oscar (Malcolm Goodwin), is a big-city hotshot from Boston, adjusting to the slow pace of Margrave. And the female officer, Roscoe (Willa Fitzgerald), is a newbie looking to prove herself.

Humor is also tastefully laced throughout the show. “You guys recycle?” Reacher asks, tearing apart zip-tie handcuffs with his wrists. It has such vivid scenes as Reacher killing two belligerents and proceeding to break their legs like strands of dried pasta to contort their bodies in the trunk of his car.

His brute strength aside, Reacher follows a strict moral code. His father was an Army veteran who taught him to hone his strength and tell right from wrong. “Bullies need to know they can be punished, too,” he tells Roscoe in one scene. Incidentally, Alan Ritchson’s father was also an Army veteran.

The show harkens back to a simpler time: an era where filmmakers were more concerned with entertaining an audience than creating giant CGI set pieces or scoring political points. The stakes aren’t cartoonishly raised to apocalyptic proportions, and it never veers into pedantic wokeisms.

Amazon’s Reacher won’t win any Emmy Awards, but if you’re nostalgic for no-frills ’80s action flicks, its unapologetic masculine energy will keep you more than sufficiently entertained throughout its first season — and there’s a second season already on the way.

Originally Published at The Washington Examiner