Series: ‘Reacher’ (Streaming on Amazon Prime); Duration: Average 48 minutes per episode
Directors: Norberto Barba, M. J. Bassett, Sam Hill, Omar Madha, Christine Moore, Lin Oeding, Stephen Surjik, Thomas Vincent
Cast: Alan Ritchson, Malcolm Goodwin, Willa Fitzgerald, Hugh Thompson, Chris Webster, Bruce McGill, Maxwell Jenkins, Gavin White, Leslie Fray, Jonathan Koensgen, Willie C. Carpenter
IANS Rating: ***1/2
This eight-episode series is based on author Lee Child’s 1997 published first novel ‘Killing Ground’. It introduces us to its eponymous, superhuman hero with all sincerity.
Like the novel, the series too starts with Jack Reacher, a veteran-military police investigator, with the barest of essentials, stepping off a bus in the small town of Margrave, Georgia. As he settles in a restaurant, and before he could taste the restaurant’s “finest” peach pie or even sip his coffee, he is arrested and accused of something he hasn’t done.
Incidentally, a man was murdered in a field just outside town, on the night Reacher was travelling into Margrave. Everyone thinks Reacher is responsible for the killing, given his past reputation- and this being the town’s first homicide in 20 years. The situation gets complicated when an accountant called Paul Hubble confesses to the murder. He is put in the same detention room, along with Reacher, where an attempt is made on their lives.
But when Chief Detective Oscar Finlay (Malcolm Goodwill) and the young police officer Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald) investigate the situation, they exonerate Reacher.
Given Reacher’s background, he soon allies with them to prove his innocence. Together the three of them visit the morgue, and on realising whose body is lying there, Reacher makes it his agenda to unravel the deep-seated conspiracy that’s plaguing the town.
With the increasing number of people getting killed, the plot and the pacing of the series are taut and intense. Narrated in a non-linear manner, it’s an investigation you’d not want to miss witnessing. The dialogues are crisp to the point and intelligently shrewd. But then there are a few moments when Reacher reveals some unplausible expositions with precision. The justification given then is lame and dismissible, given this is an exceptional heroic series.
There are several dramatic as well as action sequences that are astutely designed and delicately handled. Some of the murder scenes and bone-breaking acts are gruesome but not over-the-top.
On the performance front, every actor is natural and at ease with the characters they play. Topping the list is Alan Ritchson. He essays- Jack Reacher’s confidence and presence, to perfection, with his big, well-chiselled frame. When his mother Josephine (Leslie Fray) says: “Reacher has the strength of three men,” you believe her, given his over-powering screen presence and formidable demeanour.
Ritchson is aptly supported by; the swift and agile Willa Fitzgerald as Roscoe Conklin – his colleague and love interest in the series, Malcolm Goodwin, who essays the strong-minded and defensive by the books-Chief Detective Oscar Finlay, together the trio make a formidable team, difficult to defeat.
Technically, the series is mounted with good production values. The cinematography adds to the intrigue value of the narrative. It captures the setting and the performances of its talented cast with precision.
Overall, the series is a gritty, action thriller worthy for binge-watching.