I read my first Jack Reacher book, The Killing Floor by Lee Child, in 2015. I enjoyed it. It was fun. I read a second one in late 2016. Again, it was fun and I enjoyed the book. Then in February 2018, I was down for more than a week with the flu (it was one of those years when the vaccine wasn’t very effective) and I went on a Reacher binge. I read 4 Jack Reacher novels in that week. I read three more in the week that followed, and four more the week after that. By April 1, 2018 I’d made it through 21 Jack Reacher novel. These were light reading. They were fun: Reacher is a fantasy character, the tough guy who isn’t intimidated by anyone. Since then, I’ve kept up with the Reacher books, and while the most recent book, Better Off Dead was not nearly as good, the core of those first 21 books were solid, enjoyable, entertaining reads.
I’ve seen the two Jack Reacher movies starring Tom Cruise, and like many Reacher fans, I puzzled over the casting of Cruise as Reacher. Reacher is huge: 6′ 5″. Cruise is not huge. Reacher hold himself in a certain way that Cruise just couldn’t match on the screen.
A while back Lee Child hinted that there might be a Reacher series in the future, and on February 4, the new Reacher series debuted on Amazon Prime. I’d been looking forward to it for a while, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. In fact, I was blown away by it. Alan Ritchson is the perfect Jack Reacher — I say this as someone who has read all of the books (and short stories). Not only is he the right size, but the way he carries himself, his bearing, his expressions, his attitude is perfect Reacher.
Fans of the books know the typical Reacher refrain: “Reacher said nothing.” Ritchson conveys this through expressions alone many times throughout the first season, something that I think is harder than it sounds. His face shows what he is thinking while he says nothing.
The books have detailed fight scenes that kind of happen in slow motion so that every punch and kick can be described. Reacher comes across as a powerful fighter. Watching Ritchson in the new series, and contrasting his style of fighting to Tom Cruise in the movies, Ritchson is that powerful fighter that Reacher is supposed to be.
There were other gems in the first season, which covers the very first Jack Reacher novel, The Killing Floor, not altering too much, except the timeframe (a few years later than the books). One gem was the appearance of Frances Neagley, one of my favorite recurring characters from the books. I can’t be certain, but I don’t htink Neagley appeared in the first Reacher novel. She appears in the series and I was so excited to see her there.
Another little (spoiler-free) gem was a scene in the final episode of the season when Reacher walks into a diner and kind of bumps shoulder with a patron walking out. The patron, about as tall as Ritchson, although lanky, excuses himself, and walks out. Fans will recognize that patron as none other than Lee Child.
The only downside I found in the new series was that it was too short for me. I burned through the eight epiodes in two days, and now, will likely have to wait a year or more before I get to see Ritchson playing Reacher again. I wonder which novel they will be this time. Already I can’t wait.
Written on February 4, 2022.
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